Sales of the massive A380s are tumbling, with many airlines opting for more compact models. Now Airbus may be facing a decision: Is it really worth the cost to keep building them?
Airbus SE is contemplating a deal with Gulf carrier Emirates that would see an order for A380 jets swapped to a smaller model, leading it to stop building the superjumbo, according to a person familiar with the matter.
Discussions focus on substituting commitments for the A380 with Airbus’s newest A350 wide-body, said the person, who asked not to be named as the talks are private. All 20 aircraft from an Emirates order announced early last year could be swapped, or just some of the planes, they said.
Airbus would keep superjumbo production going until other outstanding orders for the plane were fulfilled, mostly from an earlier Emirates deal, but the move would ultimately mean shuttering a production line the manufacturer has aimed to keep going in anticipation of a revival in demand for the slow-selling model.
Toulouse, France-based Airbus appeared to have secured a long-term future for the A380 when it agreed last January to sell as many as 36 to Emirates, but it has struggled to find a engine supplier willing to meet the Dubai-based carrier’s price and performance demands. An alliance of General Electric Co. and Pratt & Whitney has shown little enthusiasm, while Rolls-Royce Holdings Plc has so far failed to agree terms after months of negotiations.
Airbus and Emirates both declined to comment on ongoing talks. London-based Rolls-Royce also declined to comment.
©2019 Bloomberg L.P.
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Photo Credit: An Airbus SE A380. Chris Ratcliffe / Bloomberg