Europe’s aerospace group Airbus has announced it is set to stop making the A380 super-jumbo after its biggest customer, Emirates, reduced the number of orders for the world’s biggest passenger jet.
Nearly 15 years after the A380’s maiden flight, the aircraft will be taken out of production, the company said in a statement on Thursday. The last of the 500-plus-seat double-deck jet airliner will be delivered in 2021.
Airbus explained its decision by the lack of customers for its flagship aircraft after Emirates decided to cut back on the order of its fleet from 162 to 123 aircraft.
The airline wants to switch to smaller jets such as A330neo and A350, ordering 40 and 30 of each aircraft model, respectively. The planemaker is to deliver 14 A380s to the company before ceasing production in around two years.
“Today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide,” Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said. “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.”
The European aviation giant said the move may impact up to 3,500 jobs and cost it €463 million (R7 375 million) in losses in 2018.
The A380’s maiden flight was under a Singapore Airlines banner in 2007, with its producer expecting the jet to outshine Boeing’s iconic 747.
Despite passenger approval of the giant aircraft’s comfort and luxury options, some considered the costly plane a commercial failure due to its relatively small demand. More than a decade after it’s first flight, Airbus has had just 331 orders, mostly from Emirates, for the super-jumbo, according to Forbes.