Hailed as the ‘future of air travel’ when it came into service in 2005 sales of the A380 subsequently proved to be disappointing and a cut in orders from Emirates has sounded the death knell. Tony McDonough reports
Planemaker Airbus is to cease production of its A380 superjumbo in 2021 putting jobs at risk at its wing-making plant at Broughton in Deeside.
Hailed as the “future of air travel” when it came into service in 2005 sales of the A380 subsequently proved to be disappointing. On Thursday Airbus said carrier Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft.
As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the model in 2021.
More than 190m passenger have flown on the A380 since its launch but, in recent years, airlines have favoured smaller, more efficient aircraft. The A380 was designed to carry more than 500 passengers but could be configured to carry more than 800.
The company employs around 6,000 people at Broughton producing wings for a number of different aircraft, including the A380. Airbus has said it can move people to other areas of the operation but one report today suggested up to 300 jobs could be at risk at the plant.
The news came as Airbus revealed a set of strong financial results for 2018 with revenues of 64bn euros and profits (EBIT) of 5.8bn euros.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said: “Though 2018 had plenty of challenges for us, we delivered on our commitments with record profitability thanks to a strong operational performance, particularly in Q4.
“With an order backlog of around 7,600 aircraft, we intend to ramp-up aircraft production even further.”
Despite cutting its order for A380s Emirates has decided to continue growing with Airbus’ newest generation, flexible widebody aircraft, ordering 40 A330-900 and 30 A350-900 aircraft.
Mr Enders added: “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021.
“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.
“But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”
Airbus will start discussions with staff and unions in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 jobs potentially impacted over the next three years. However, the ongoing A320 ramp-up and the new widebody order from Emirates Airline will offer a significant number of internal opportunities, it added.