Is it the end of an era for the Airbus A380? And if so, how did it come so quickly for an airplane that only made its first revenue flight in 2007 with Singapore Airlines?
These are questions Jens Flottau asks in a story published this week in Aviation Week. Jens happens to be my boss, so perhaps I'm biased. But it's an excellent, informative piece, and unlike much of the stuff on the site, you can read it for free online.
Basically, the iconic jet has not sold as well as Airbus had hoped. In fact, Airbus hasn't sold a single A380 this year, though it did deliver many, including to Etihad and Asiana. (Etihad, however, said this week it won't place any more orders for the A380.) Airbus thinks it can produce the aircraft as its currently designed through 2018, and it has a reasonably large backlog of deliveries to make. But after 2018, Airbus company has a big decision.
Will it build an updated version of the the A380, as Emirates Airline wants it to? Or will Airbus wind down the program and focus on its other jets?
Here's how Flottau describes it:
The prospect of Airbus not continuing its most prestigious aircraft only a decade after its original entry into service has been unthinkable for most, in spite of the current order drought that has not seen the manufacturer add a single A380 order during 2014. But it is testimony to a market segment that appears to have been overestimated in the enthusiasm of the late 1990s, when European aerospace executives sought to pursue Boeing even harder by offering a complete range of models, including a very large jet. Airbus is understood to have spent well in excess of €20 billion on A380 development and is not expected to recover its investment for several decades, even if the program is continued and demand picks up strongly.
I am not nearly as plugged into this topic at Flottau. But my guess is that Airbus will find a way to save the program and continue making its iconic double decker jet.
What do you think?