Airbus has announced that it will discontinue the A380, which has often been considered one of the most iconic jets from the company. The decision signals the end of an era. At one time, the jet promised to revolutionize commercial air travel but has since failed to achieve the lofty heights it was expected. Airbus CEO Tom Enders said that this was actually a very “painful decision” for the company. He also noted that Airbus had invested a lot of efforts in this aircraft and it’s sad to see it come to an end.
Enders added that Emirate’s decision to reduce its orders is partly to blame. He confirmed that at the moment, the order backlog is not enough to sustain production. The decision could affect nearly 3,500 workers in a number of European countries. The A380 cost $25 billion to develop and first took to the skies about 14 years ago. Airbus had hoped that the giant plane would be appealing to airlines due to its sheer size. But things didn’t work out as expected. As it turned out, not many airlines needed an 853 capacity plane to carry passengers through different airport hubs.
So far, the company has delivered a total of 234 superjumbos. This is way less compared to the 1,200 it had planned to. The plan was largely undermined by the decision by most airlines to shift their attention to lighter and more fuel-efficient passenger jets. But a lot of passengers around the world loved to travel with huge aircraft. It’s very likely that the announcement to discontinue their production will be met with a level of sadness by the general public. Nonetheless, it seems to be the right thing to do.
Despite this, the A380 will still continue its service in the sky for some time to come. Airbus said that it will continue to fully support A380 operators. It will take a number of years before these giant planes are fully phased out. The news didn’t seem to affect the markets that much either. Airbus shares were up 5% after the announcement. But it’s also likely that this surge was caused by a positive earnings report that was announced during the same conference call. Net profits for the aircraft maker were up 30% in 2018 hitting $3.5 billion. Total sales were also higher compared to the same period last year totaling $71.7 billion. Airbus announced that it was well on course to deliver between 880 and 890 commercial aircraft before the end of the year.
Airbus’s main rival Boeing will still continue to make its Jumbo Jet 747 but production has significantly slowed in recent years. In 2018, only 6 Jumbo Jets were delivered. It’s not clear whether Boeing will follow Airbus’s lead and stop the manufacture of these large passenger jets. But it’s clear that they are no longer sustainable in the current business climate. Besides, the A380 program was brought to life only after Emirates placed a large order for the aircraft. The airline then pulled out making it very hard for Airbus to continue production.