News that Qantas will decline delivery of the remaining eight Airbus A380 it has on order is not a good omen for the European aviation giant and may signal an uncertain future for the revolutionary double-decker superjumbo jet in the face of weak demand, manufacturing woes and stiff competition from U.S-based rival Boeing.
This week, Australian flag-carrier Qantas Airways confirmed the airline would cancel the remaining eight Airbus A380 aircraft it has on order. Qantas currently has a fleet of twelve A380 planes, but industry insiders say this latest cancellation spells an almost certain doom for the European aircraft manufacturer’s superjumbo jet program.
“It is the end of the A380,” an unnamed industry source familiar with the Airbus 380 program told Reuters on Thursday.
There was some hope that a last minute order from British Airways would help to salvage production of the double-decker, four engine, nearly 550-seat aircraft. Unfortunately, no such order materialized. This is coupled with a recent string of cancellations and it is now believed that Airbus could announce an indefinite suspension of A380 production by the end of the week.
The A380 has been generally lauded by the flying public amply evidenced by passenger reaction to news of the aircraft impending demise. Right now in the Flyertalk British Airways Executive Club forum, a number of frequent flyers are lamenting the fact that the U.K-flag carrier declined to make a substantial investment in new A380 planes despite indications from CEO Willie Walsh that the airline would consider dramatically increasing the number of new A380 aircraft in its fleet.
Despite being a hit with passengers, the A380 program has long been plagued by sluggish sales. Now, a recent run of order cancellations may be the final nail in the coffin for the groundbreaking aircraft. Production issues, including concerns about the ability to source engines for the massive planes, has dissuaded airlines from agreeing to purchase the flyer-friendly jetliners instead opting in many cases for more efficient two-engine aircraft. Even Emirates, by far the largest purchaser of A380 planes, is said to have also opened the door to cancelling or modifying the bulk of its current A380 order.
[Image: Wikimedia/Dmitry A. Mottl]