A380 production can be cut: the jet is not popular among carriers

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Anastasia Dagaeva
December 14, 2017

Airbus is exploring plans to cut A380 superjumbo production to as low as six aircraft per year as it battles to make the world’s largest airliner commercially viable beyond the end of the decade. Airbus added that no final decision was made, according to Reuters

Squeezed by smaller but efficient twin-engined jets, Airbus has announced plans to lower A380 output to 12 aircraft in 2018 and eight in 2019, down from an annual peak of 30, as it holds out for what it believes will be a recovery in demand. But plans to maintain that rate are in doubt as Airbus seeks to finalize an order for 36 new aircraft from Emirates. Earlier this year Airbus delivered the 100th A380 to Dubai-based carrier. 

During the Dubai Airshow 2017, Emirates didn’t place the anticipated A380 order with Airbus, opting for $15 billion-worth 40 Boeing 787-10 Dreamliner jets instead. Emirates President Tim Clark made it clear that he wants more than just discounts to buy more A380s: “If we order any more, we want to make absolutely sure that the will is there contractually to continue the line for 10 to 15 years”. 

Industry analysts say ongoing negotiations with Emirates will be decisive for the future of the A380 aircraft, which recently marked its 10th anniversary in operation. Airbus, which has delivered 14 A380s so far this year, has told some suppliers it is studying eventually reducing production to six a year.  And there's no customer's queue either. The Irish leasing company Amedeo that counts eight A380s super-jumbos among its fleet, and has a further 20 on order from Airbus, reacted to the  lack of interest in the world’s largest passenger plane by setting up it's own airline.

Meanwhile, Singapore Airlines, the launch customer of the type has just taken delivery of the first of five new A380s with a new customized interior costed $850 million spent by the carrier in developing the new cabin. 

“We are proud to deliver the first of five new A380s for Singapore Airlines,” said Airbus CEO Tom Enders, who noted that Singapore Airlines was the first to fly the A380, and has operated the aircraft with the highest levels of technical excellence from its service entry. “The aircraft has proven to be a huge commercial success in service with the carrier, flying passengers efficiently and in comfort on the airline’s long haul and regional network”. 

In addition to its five new aircraft, Singapore Airlines also will retrofit the new cabin on 14 of its A380s already in service. The retrofit programme will begin at the end of 2018, to be undertaken by the airline in conjunction with Services by Airbus – the Airbus operation created to deliver world-leading integrated aviation services. All 14 Singapore Airlines A380s will be retrofitted by 2020, says Airbus.

So, things are not too bad for the A380. It even seems that the wide-body plans to become Santa’s favorite. The Emirates Airbus A380 has been flying in a path shaped like a Christmas tree, complete with baubles since lunchtime on December 13. 

The plane set off from Hamburg's Finkenwerder airport and went on an unusual route catching the attention of flight tracking website FlightRadar24 that tweeted: “Airbus is drawing a giant Christmas Tree over Germany, during a test flight of an Airbus A380 for Emirates”. 

The colorfully traced path showed a Christmas tree stretching from Stuttgart in the South to Hamburg in the North. According to FlightRadar24 it passed over Cologne, Frankfurt and Stuttgart at about 12 km before returning to Hamburg to complete the shape. 

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