Global Airline Production Orders for the A380 Decline Dramatically
Introduced in 2007, the Airbus A380 is the world’s largest commercial aircraft and was presented as a sleek, slick, fuel maximizing jumbo-jet of the future. That said, the Airbus A380 was supposed to alleviate travel congestion in internationally connecting airport city hubs around the world and introduce a new, 21st-century era of glamour and adventure to the traveling public. 747? Triple-7 who? The Airbus A380 was supposed to publicly accelerate the obsolescence of the aging but traveler-adored fleet of Boeing behemoths. Ironically, the Boeing’s 747 and 777 aircrafts could rightly be considered the Airbus A380’s of their heydays in the 20th century. Just like the A380, they were expected to transform aviation and usher the air travel masses into a new era of commercial flight convenience.
The 500-seater, $400,000,000-a-piece Airbus A380, the standard bearer aircraft for Airbus which was once considered to be the future of commercial aviation travel, could theoretically discontinue all global production of the jumbo jet within a decade or two. Especially if purchase orders from global airlines keep being cancelled or diminished at the rate that they are now. Currently, Airbus produces over two dozen A380 aircraft a year. In a sluggish global economy, airlines have become more increasingly concerned with efficient fuel economy. The 1.2 million pound, 4 engine behemoth is a certifiable gas guzzler. Airlines that do buy the A380 do so at steep discounts as the $400 million asking price is too much for some buyers. Airbus only started fully covering costs for production costs on the A380 in 2015 when the company made about 30 or so A380’s a year. By 2018 the company will manufacture a dozen year. Airbus may never recoup the full $25 billion it spent developing the A380.
The Airbus A380 was a big slice of the future presented to us today that was primed to become the next big thing in aviation and commercial air travel. There were going to be planning to build an Airbus A380-centric terminal in every major city and international travel hub airport in the world at one point. Then something remarkable happened over the last decade as the hype died down. Travelers and airline companies decided that they really weren’t all that much into the Airbus A380. Official productions orders for the plane have been either dramatically slashed or outright canceled. If current trends continue, and it looks like they will, then Boeing’s fleet of 747 and 777 aircraft may reclaim their former titles of most beloved jumbo jets in service, even if they are no longer the largest.
Due to rapidly diminishing global demand, a torrent of canceled productions orders from all corners of the globe and a reluctance on the part of airlines to let go of a proven workhorse like Boeing’s aging but dependable 747 and 777 fleets, Airbus is slated to produce only about 12 or so A380 aircraft in 2018. Airbus once projected that they would produce 1,200 A380s in 20 years’ time. They have barely produced 200 planes and only have about 125 on the future production order. The current aviation market favors two-engine planes. Engines produce for commercial aviation are economical, efficient, quieter and can fly for longer periods. They are much more reliable today than they were in the past. There is no market for 500-seater, 4-engine planes that eat up fuel. Also, after the initial hype died down with its initial rollout, the public and airline companies quickly fell out of love with the plane. Japan has a few of the planes. No airline company in the United States bought one. The only country in the world that seems quite enamored with the A380 is the United Arab Emirates. The U.A.E. put in purchase orders for over 140 A380s. In fact, the country has over 75 already in service. The U.A.E. is the only country in the world with an air terminal at one of its airports that were built specifically to service A380s.
Even though the company has publicly stated that they are slashing production of the aircraft and cutting down on operating costs it has also publicly stated that “The A380 is here to stay.” If current trends continue, they may not really be the case. So the next time that you find yourself on an A380, try to appreciate the experience. Unless you fly Emirates Airlines frequently or Airbus experiences a sudden and abrupt turnaround in interest, you may just see a little less of the A380 in the future.