Ongoing negotiations with Saudi Arabia’s Emirates carrier, which is likely to place an order for 36 A380s, is likely to play a significant role in the future of the A380.
A top executive from Airbus SE disclosed the airplane maker is weighing its options on cutting the cost of production of its A380 superjumbo to six or seven planes a year; a final decision on the matter is yet to be made.
The development underscores a growing question mark on the future of the double-decker jet.
In the past, the A380 program has faced headwinds ranging from competition from sluggish sales, to competition from more efficient twin-engined jets, all of which have contributed to the cutting of its annual output of a peak of 30 to just 6-7 now.
“We believe we can produce this aircraft at 6-7 a year in an industrial way,” said Fabrice Bregier, the Chief Operating Officer at Airbus folowing the landing of a Singapore Airlines A380, which has a new cabin configuration, in Singapore. “The A380 will find its way progressively”.
According to industry sources, Airbus plans on cutting the output of the A380 to a low of 6 per year in order to make the firm commercially viable beyond 2020.
On Wednesday, although Tom Enders, Airbus’ Chief Executive had expressed confidence on the jet, as per analysts, ongoing negotiations over a deal with Emirates is likely to be decisive for the future of the aircraft.
Emirates, which held off signing an order for an estimated 36 aircraft at the Dubai Airshow, wants a guarantee that Airbus will continue to produce the A380 jet for at least 10 years.
If Airbus were to reduce the output to just 6 a year, it could help bridge that period as well as support key second-hand values while it looks for other buyers and could plug gaps in the program to ensure that its not a loss making venture, for this part of the period.