Air­bus to stop mak­ing strug­gling A380 su­per­jumbo in 2021

Sun.Star Pampanga - - WORLD! - OULOUSE, France — Euro­pean avi­a­tion gi ant Air­bus said Thurs­day it will stop mak­ing its su­per­jumbo A380 in 2021 for lack of cus­tomers, aban­don­ing the world’s big­gest pas­sen­ger jet and one of the avi­a­tion in­dus­try’s most am­bi­tious and most trou­bled en­deavo

Barely a decade after the 500-plus-seat plane started car­ry­ing pas­sen­gers, Air­bus said in a state­ment that key client Emi­rates is cut­ting back its or­ders for the plane, and as a re­sult, “we have no sub­stan­tial A380 back­log and hence no ba­sis to sus­tain pro­duc­tion.”

The de­ci­sion could hurt up to 3,500 jobs and al­ready cost the plane maker 463 mil­lion eu­ros in losses in 2018, Air­bus said.

The end of the young yet iconic jet is a boon for ri­val Boe­ing and an em­bar­rass­ing blow for Air­bus, a Euro­pean eco­nomic pow­er­house. A pall of mourn­ing hung in the at­mos­phere Thurs­day at its head­quar­ters in the south­ern French city of Toulouse.

It’s also sad news for Emi­rates, which had the A380 as the back­bone of its fleet, based out of Dubai, the world’s busiest air­port for in­ter­na­tional travel.

Still, Air­bus an­nounced Thurs­day a 29-per­cent jump in over­all prof­its last year, and an­a­lysts said global de­mand is high enough for Air­bus to weather the loss of its iconic su­per­jumbo.

The plane maker re­ported net profit of 3.1 bil­lion eu­ros over last year, up from 2.4 bil­lion eu­ros in 2017. In ad­di­tion to the A380 loss, Air­bus re­ported a charge of 436 mil­lion eu­ros on the A400M, used by sev­eral Euro­pean mil­i­taries.

Air­bus said it fore­casts sim­i­lar prof­its in 2019, in line with growth in the world econ­omy and air traf­fic.

Emi­rates an­nounced Thurs­day that it had struck a deal val­ued at $21.4 bil­lion with Air­bus to re­place some A380s with A350 wide-bod­ies and smaller A330 planes.

“While we are dis­ap­pointed to have to give up our or­der, and sad that the pro­gram could not be sus­tained, we ac­cept that this is the re­al­ity of the sit­u­a­tion,” Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Mak­toum, the chair­man and CEO of Emi­rates, said in a state­ment. “For us, the A380 is a won­der­ful air­craft loved by our cus­tomers and our crew. It is a dif­fer­en­tia­tor for Emi­rates. We have shown how peo­ple can truly fly bet­ter on the A380.”

Emi­rates long has been the largest op­er­a­tor of the A380. Be­fore Thurs­day’s an­nounce­ment, it had 162 of the jumbo jets on or­der.

The A380 has been a fa­vorite of Emi­rates’ pas­sen­gers, es­pe­cially those in busi­ness and first class, which en­com­passed the en­tire up­per deck of the air­plane and was com­plete with a bar in the back.

Air­bus had hoped the A380 would squeeze out Boe­ing’s 747 and rev­o­lu­tion­ize air travel as more peo­ple take to the skies.

In­stead, air­lines have been cau­tious about com­mit­ting to the costly plane, so huge that air­ports had to build new run­ways and mod­ify ter­mi­nals to ac­com­mo­date it. The dou­ble-decker planes started fly­ing in 2008 and seated more than 500 pas­sen­gers.

The A380 had trou­bles from the start, in­clud­ing ten­sions be­tween Air­bus’ French and Ger­man man­age­ment and pro­tracted pro­duc­tion de­lays and cost over­runs. Those prompted a com­pany re­struc­tur­ing that cost thou­sands of jobs.

In­dus­try ex­perts ini­tially ex­pected A380s to long out­last the 747, which is cel­e­brat­ing its 50th birthday this year.

When it started tak­ing on pas­sen­gers in 2008, the A380 was hailed for its roomi­ness, large win­dows, high ceil­ings and qui­eter en­gines. Some car­ri­ers put in show­ers, lounges, duty free shops and bars on both decks.

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