Airbus set to cut A380 manufacture

By Bloomberg News, June 6 2017
Airbus set to cut A380 manufacture

Airbus is planning a further cut in build rates for the beleaguered A380 superjumbo amid a continuing dearth of new orders for the 525-seat behemoth.

Airbus is assessing how best to drop output below the 12 planes a year, known as “rate one,” that the company said in July should be sustainable from 2018, Didier Evrard, its head of programs, said Monday in Cancun, Mexico. A decision will be made before the end of this year in the absence of further sales.

“It’s likely that we may have to go below rate one, and we will do that,” Evrard said in a briefing on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting. “We will continue to study opportunities to go below, while keeping our program as easy as possible on the financial side.”

Airbus is in talks that could secure fresh commitments for the A380, and the company might also bring forward jets from the existing backlog to bolster rates if it’s decided that 12 planes a year are necessary to break even on a unit-by-unit basis, Airbus sales chief John Leahy said at the briefing.

“I’m trying to maintain 12, he’s trying to protect if we have to go below that,” Leahy said of Evrard’s comments, while adding that there’s no truth to suggestions that completed A380s are already being parked up amid a lack of customers willing to take them.

Emirates opening

Leahy said Airbus is seeking to manage the A380 program through “a period of softness in the market for large aircraft” and hasn’t given up on the model. Still, the production cut announced last year was in itself widely regarded as the beginning of the end for the double-decker, with output to be slashed from a break-even rate of 27 deliveries achieved in 2015.

Airbus won no new A380 orders in 2016 after Iran opted not to go ahead with an outline deal for 12 planes. At the same time, the manufacturer handed over 28 aircraft. Subsequent deliveries had reduced the backlog to 107 as of April 30, though some of those may be vulnerable to cancellation or deferral.

A follow-on order from Dubai-based Emirates, the leading operator of the A380, may now be the only development likely to stave off the program’s demise. Airbus had wanted to put the jetliner on life support until a hoped-for revival in demand fired by Asian economic growth and crowded runways at major hubs.

While Emirates is due to have A380s coming off lease in the next few years, it had aimed to replace them with an upgraded variant that Airbus and engine suppliers have been reluctant to develop for a single operator.

The Gulf carrier in December also put back six A380s due in 2017 and the same number scheduled for 2018 by a year, prompting Airbus to say it would accelerate cost cuts at the operation while reiterating the 12-a-year production goal.


03 May 2013

Total posts 669

From any perspective(lower altitude cabin pressurisation setting, super quiet, higher air humidity levels, roominess/space) the A380 is BY FAR the best aircraft ever to fly long haul/ultra long haul on. Pity it has reached this point. The 787 does not compete however the A350 comes closest but still not quite to A380 standards(nor is the 748i). I really hope airlines can make this type work in the near future.  Configurations such as that of Emirates A380's with the in flight bar, seating and general plush feel are a sheer delight to pass hours on.

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

20 Mar 2014

Total posts 132

i agree completely wiht you joe. its a real pity this aircraft is in decline... it is by far the best passenger experience on long haul bar none!

Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

09 Feb 2015

Total posts 377

100% agree with you Joe, and I am sure many of the travelling public do also. The flying experience on the A380 is fantastic and many people seek out the A380 as first choice. The 787 and 777 just don't cut it. I have not had the chance to fly on the A350 as yet so cannot comment.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 622

Technical truth:

1. Cabin pressurization setting=
787/350 are equal or slightly lower than 380 thx mainly to their CFRP fuselage construction which is structurally far more resistant to fatigue than metal.
2. Cabin humidity level=
787/350 are equal or slightly higher than 380 again thx mainly to their CFRP fuselage construction which is far more resistant to corrosion than metal.
3. Roominess/space=
Individual seat space on 380 main deck is truly more spacious than 787/350 due mainly to the chosen cabin diameter vs the standard seat count per row.  On upper deck, cabin wall fm the floor curving steeply towards the ceiling/roof is actually very concave /attic-like.  With the typical 8 abreast in Y or 4 abreast in J on this deck and @ eye level, it's easy to notice the cabin being much narrower than a 330(let alone 787/350) in equivalent seat layout.

4. Interior noise level fm mechanical sources=
I hv flown on both 380(both decks) and 787 more than a few times.  Any location on 380 upper deck is significantly quieter than 787(likely 350 too but I hv not flown on it yet).  However, I can't feel/detect any diff in noise level between 380 main deck and 787.

If "the 787 does not compete", then by technical definition, the 350 also does not compete with 380.

Airlines worldwide hv been trying to make 380 work for them(i.e. building biz case or econ justifications) ever since the program was launched 17yrs ago and entered service in 2007.  That's a pretty long period for Airbus to sell+airline customers to assess the 380 biz case.  I don't know how after 17yrs, far more airline customers suddenly re-discover the 380 biz case and order more "in the near future"....

It's technically possible/available for airline customers to specify  "in flight bar, seating and general plush feel" to be installed on 787/350 similar to those found on EK's 380.  Conversely, many will agree that except for the 380 fleets of the Gulf Big3(+ perhaps SQ's to a lesser extent), such features are generally absent in the 380 fleets of other operators.  Why?  They've a strange desire to be less competitive than EK?  It makes U wonder that perhaps for some 380 operators in other geog mkts, their premium pax possibly do not see much value fm a EK-style large inflight bar nor even the shower room....e.g. we can expect extremely few premium pax on CZ's 380 actually flying CAN-PEK today will ever use such features even if available.

Air New Zealand - Airpoints

21 Jan 2016

Total posts 197

I think the A380 days are numbered as airlines do their number crunching in regards to high operational costs of the A380 as a 4 engine aircraft as oppose to the more cost efficiency of the B787/A350/B77X as 2 engine aircraft.

Whilst the A380 is a good aircraft for 'spoke n wheel' operation, passengers are looking for more 'point 2 point' flights where B787, A350 and B77X meets that market.

If and when Boeing brings out the B787-900 ER to compete with the A350-800ULR, then production of the A380 will cease unless Airbus finds buyers for the A380 freighter version.

31 Mar 2016

Total posts 622


It isn't just costs.  Those numbers also directly or indirectly reflect demand for 380 flights/routes.

EK is an excellent example as they're already the largest 380 operator on earth by far.  If all or even just the majority of their pax perceive 380 comfort superiority as top priority(As some folks here claim) in their bookings, the entire EK fleet would hv been 380 only or majority 380 @ least.  Instead, we see 777 x145 flying for EK today along with 77X x150 arriving fm 2020.  In contrast, less than 1/3 of that quantity for 380 remains on EK's order backlog.  Why?  EK hv a strange conspiracy against their pax's overwhelming desire for 380 flights?  U see the same pattern @ all other 380 operators with an even higher ratio of non-380 flights vs 380 flights.

I don't doubt most pax luv the 380 experience including myself(I hv flown on it a few times).  However, I seriously doubt the type is the top priority in choosing booking for most pax today regardless of which airline.  And those booking data(easily available to 380 and non-380 operators fm IATA and other commercial sources) are also being crunched by airlines for 10yrs since 380 service debut which ultimately forced Airbus to now consider production rate @ below 1 per mth.  Many folks are unaware of how significant this Airbus move really is as the existing 380 supply chain+production infrastructure investment is scaled @ 4 per mth.....they obviously wouldn't consider below 1 per mth unless they're very very desperate about the future mkt trend for 380.

The 380 is still an engineering marvel.  Unfortunately, the nature & shape of the worldwide longhaul mkt has changed beyond recognition fm the days when 380 was conceived.

Turn back the clock by about 40yrs and revisit the JFK-LHR/CDG route - the largest traffic intercon trunk in that era.  Every pax on that route knew what's a Concorde and clearly luv its speed more than any other types.  Both BA & AF were aware of its huge popularity and initially had plans in the early 70s to eventually replace many of their 747s with Concorde on that trunk route.  Then oil price spiked and the Concorde always burn 3x more fuel per seat than a 747 on the same route. Eventually, BA/AF had to raise fare to a level(about 30% above F fare on a 747) beyond the reach of nearly all JFK-LHR/CDG pax.  Concorde production & future sales prospect quickly ceased while 747 dominated JFK-LHR/CDG @ BA/AF despite clear preference by their pax to fly Concorde.

30-40yrs ago, the mkt shifted as fuel cost killed the mass mkt demand for extra speed.  Today, the mkt shifted again as far more longhaul routing choices(along with the emergence of longhaul LCC) is suppressing/killing mkt demand for ultra large cabin comfort on trunk routes.

31 Jan 2017

Total posts 9

They say timing is everything and much like the Concorde, the A380 will go down in aviation history as a commercial fail. Both brilliant in design and technology but wrong era's and unable to sustain future growth in the competitive marketplace.


23 May 2014

Total posts 120

I and everyone I know chooses the A380 over smaller aircraft whenever possible (price and FF affiliation permitting). It's just an overall more comfortable ride in any class.


Qantas - Qantas Frequent Flyer

14 Sep 2012

Total posts 382

Majority of my flying is APAC and I move to SQ and fly x/SIN because of the A380. If QF flew the A380 to Asia I'd choose them too. 

Hi Guest, join in the discussion on Airbus set to cut A380 manufacture