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Airbus announces it will stop producing A380, the world's largest passenger airliner

The airliner, which has been in operation for more than a decade, will cease deliveries in 2021.

An Emirates Airbus A380
An Emirates Airbus A380
Image: DPA/PA Images

AIRBUS HAS ANNOUNCED that it will end production of the A380 superjumbo, the world’s largest passenger aircraft.

The double-decker ‘superjumbo’, which earned plaudits from passengers, failed to win over enough airlines to justify its massive costs.

The firm said it would stop deliveries of the airliner, which has been in operation for more than a decade, in 2021.

It comes after Dubai-based carrier Emirates reduced its total order of the model by 39 planes.

The company has faced scepticism over the A380′s future since the 1990s, when it began to envision a competitor to the hugely popular 747 from US archrival Boeing.

Airbus, long held up as a shining example of pan-European industrial cooperation, suffered several costly delays before the A380′s first commercial flight in 2007.

Production problems and cost overruns in the billions of euros continued to plague the project, forcing the company to report its first-ever annual loss for the 2006 financial year.

Airbus stood by the A380 even after it was slammed by the global financial crisis of 2007, when airlines started having second thoughts about owning huge planes that were profitable only when filled to the brim.

Today’s announcement marks the end of a bet on how passengers would travel in the future, as airlines struggled to fill a plane capable of carrying up to 850 people.

“Following a review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies, Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook from 162 to 123 aircraft,” Airbus said in a statement.

“As a consequence and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus will cease deliveries of the A380 in 2021.”

Airbus had been forced to slow A380 production in recent years before warning in January 2018 that the programme could be scrapped if no new orders came in.

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Just days after this announcement, the company appeared to get a lifeline with the latest Emirates deal, but last month Airbus admitted the airline might be reconsidering.

In today’s statement, Airbus said it would deliver the last 14 A380s to Emirates over the next two years, adding that the airline had ordered 70 smaller planes from the manufacturer.

Emirates’ decision means Airbus has “no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years”, Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders was quoted as saying.

- © AFP 2019

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