So long superjumbo: Airbus announces the end of A380

The shutdown of the world’s biggest commercial aircraft’s production could affect 3,500 jobs

The largest commercial plane ever to operate — the Airbus A380 — might soon disappear from the sky for good as Airbus has announced the end of its production in 2021.

The European aircraft manufacturer made the decision after Emirates cut their initial order by 39 jets. The Dubai-based carrier is switching to new generation, smaller wide-body aircraft with orders for 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s instead.

“Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft,” said Airbus.

“As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021.”

The decision could affect between 3,000 and 3,500 job positions over the next three years.

Tom Enders, Airbus’s outgoing chief executive, said the cancellation was painful: “We have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years.

“The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results.”

According to Airbus, more than 190 million passengers have travelled on board the superjumbo since 2007 when the first aircraft left the assembly line in Toulouse, France, and entered commercial service.

The Airbus A380 is a double-deck, wide-body jet airliner that can theoretically carry up to 800 passengers. Despite its unprecedented dimensions, the plane struggled for profitability as the demand for mid-sized jets overshadowed it.

Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus commercial aircraft and CEO-elect, added: “The A380 is Emirates’ flagship and has contributed to the airline’s success for more than ten years.

“As much as we regret the airline’s position, selecting the A330neo and A350 for its future growth is a great endorsement of our very competitive wide-body aircraft family.”