Airbus has announced that it will cease deliveries of its A380 “superjumbo” after Emirates reduced its order for the aircraft from 162 to 123.

The A380 saw its first commercial flight in 2007 and was popular among passengers for its spacious design, but demand from airlines has slowed in recent years in favour of smaller wide-body aircraft.

Its future was questioned in 2017, but Emirates – a long-time supporter of the A380 – placed an order for an additional 36 aircraft in January 2018, securing production in the short-term.

However, Airbus says Emirates has decided to reduce its order for the superjumbo “following a review of its operations”. The final 14 A380s will be delivered to the airline over the next two years.

Airbus has confirmed deliveries of the A380 will cease in 2021.

Emirates will instead grow its fleet of Airbus’ newest generation wide-body aircraft, placing an order for 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s.

The move to phase out production of the A380 puts 3,000 to 3,500 jobs “potentially at risk”, according to Airbus, however the company says the “A320 ramp-up” and the new wide-body order for Emirates will offer “a significant number of internal mobility opportunities”.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders commented: “As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021. The consequences of this decision are largely embedded in our 2018 full year results.”

Praising the success of the aircraft over the last ten years, Enders continued: “The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”

Guillaume Faury, president of Airbus Commercial Aircraft – who will take up the role of CEO when Enders steps down in April – 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. Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus.”

Read BBT’s analysis of the downfall of support for jumbo and superjumbo aircraft from the January/February 2018 issue here

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