The European aircraft manufacturer Airbus announced today that it will stop production on its massive A380 super jumbo passenger aircraft.
The news was provided by Airbus CEO Tom Enders at the company's headquarters in Toulouse, France. Enders cited a lack of orders as the key to interrupting what is currently the world's largest airline. Airbus expects the cancellation potentially to affect thousands of UK staff currently working on A380 production, although the company hopes to transfer as many of its employees as possible to other roles.
Efficiency Is Still King
The script has been on the wall of the A380 for a while, and the sale of the huge jet stream did not really reach the levels Airbus had hoped for. The proverbial straw that broke the camel's back, according to The Guardian's report, was an order reduction from Emirates, the A380's largest buyer.
Airbus is flush with orders for many of its other air routes ̵
"What we see here is the end of the big, four-engine plane," Enders complained.
The change of the commercial airline industry in the years since 9/11 has seen airlines express a clear preference for aircraft that prioritize efficiency and cost, making large aircraft such as the A380 a tough sale. Airbus rival Boeing preemptively interrupted its own fancy but fuel-hungry concept aircraft after 9/11 due to a similar lack of interest from the airlines, but instead put the development effort against efficiency-focused 787.
size gives certain economies of scale – more passengers per aircraft generally mean more revenue per aircraft, everything else in the same way – the size and scale have their own disadvantages. Although the A380 was designed with similar track requirements and takeoff / landing speeds like other large aircraft, the A380's wing buckle and overall mass are not compatible with many airport boats and ports. The tight passenger capacity also creates its own challenges for the airlines, which often have to change the terminal setup for the A380 ports to handle the large boarding crowds.
Furthermore, the shell enhancements created by the A380 utilize the aircraft to be used as a hub-to-hub people engine, further limiting the number of airports an A380 can profitably operate.
At present, Airbus has no plans for any kind of follow-on aircraft on the same scale as the A380. The company says it intends to deliver a record aircraft this year, and better than 10 percent of the already registered 2018 delivery of 800 aircraft.