Airbus said yesterday evening that it’s in commercial discussions with Emirates over the future of its A380 order.
Airbus came close to shutting the line before Emirates made a supplementary order for 36 aircraft that would take the production to around 2026-27.
Emirates has been under considerable economic pressure, with lower profits, high fuel costs, and a level of over capacity that has resulted in some aircraft being laid up.
The incoming Boeing 777-9 with a capacity close to A380 is also weighing on Emirates. It’s more efficient and carries a few less passengers – two factors that simply make it more attractive.
It would unquestionably sign the death warrant for the A380 if Emirates cancelled the whole order. It’s more likely that they’ll agree to cut it but with the last delivery far sooner – around 2021.
In any event Airbus look as though they’re about to loose their biggest ever customer and have no alternative aircraft to offer, unless in a surprise move Emirates agree to take the A350-1000, and maybe the time has come where it fits their needs.
However it’s almost certain that Airbus are not overly keen to maintain the order. For one they have been unable to resolve the issue between Emirates and Rolls Royce over the Trent 900 underperforming in recent aircraft. Without that being resolved Emirates order for A380’s is still not firm.
On top of that there is the chance that Brexit may result in the wing plant at Broughton in the U.K. being moved to Europe. If that happened, not having to drag the A380 wing kit to a new site would save a huge amount of money they’ll never get back.
Rumour has it that Airbus accounting wants the A380 line closed, believing it to be unviable.