A380 Production Ending In 2021, As Emirates Orders A330s & A350s

Filed Under: Emirates

Here’s something that has been a long time coming, unfortunately, and it’s not a happy Valentine’s Day for us aviation geeks.

Airbus ending A380 production in 2021

Airbus has announced today that they’ll be ending A380 production in 2021. Airbus will be building another 17 A380s, and then at that point they’ll be shutting down the line for the aircraft. These 17 deliveries will include three planes headed to ANA, and 14 planes headed to Emirates.

ANA will soon take delivery of their first A380

Unfortunately this will potentially impact a lot of jobs. There are 3,000-3,500 people working on the Airbus A380, and their jobs are at risk over the next few years. Airbus says that the ongoing A320 ramp-up and new widebody orders should mean that there will be a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.

Airbus’ CEO had the following the say regarding the end of A380 production:

“The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement. Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide. But, keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators.”

Emirates replaces A380 order with A330s & A350s

We knew that ending A380 production was contingent upon Emirates switching up some of their A380 orders, and that has just happened.

Emirates currently has 109 A380s in their fleet, and they’ve just reduced their total order from 162 to 123 A380s. So they’ll get 14 more A380s, and in the process Emirates has reduced their A380 order by 39 aircraft.

Emirates has decided to order 40 A330-900s and 30 A350-900s. While we don’t yet have the exact timeline with which they’ll be delivered, it’s clear that this was designed as a replacement (Emirates will be retiring their A380s by 2030).

Emirates A330-900

Emirates A350-900

It’s interesting to see this from Emirates, since historically they’re an airline that has been so focused on fleet consistency, as they just operates 777s and A380s. Now the airline has A330s and A350s on order, in addition to having ordered 787s (though I wouldn’t be surprised to see that order canceled as a result of this).

Bottom line

As a huge A380 enthusiast I’m really sad to see this news, but it’s also not surprising. I’m not sure if the problem with the A380 was that it came 10 years too early (as global demand for air travel goes, maybe there’s eventually more of a market for this?) or 10 years too late (if the A380 were in the sky before the 787/A350, maybe more airlines would have seen a business case for it?). Airbus, ultimately, considers the program to be a success.

Ultimately we should continue to see the A380 in the sky until at least 2030, but I’d be surprised to see it much beyond that.

What do you make of A380 production ending, and of Emirates ordering A350s and A330s?

  1. I flew the inagural A380 flight by chance when I was going for a vacation. That is what sparked my interest in this hobby. So sad to see this plane go. On this plane I had my first international flight, first long haul flight, first time flying an international carrier, and of course, my first time on a widebody.

  2. IMO, the A380 was an ego project for Airbus to show they could build a bigger aircraft than Boeing, along with a jobs project massively subsidized by the French treasury. They accomplished both those goals, but the aircraft they produced is ugly and awkward on airport ramps. It seems to work well only for Emirates — and perhaps Singapore, who use all that aircraft space to promote a luxury brand image. Outside the luxury market, these things will be nightmares to fly when they get configured to maximize the number of passengers they can carry. No thanks.

  3. The A380 was dead on the drawing sheet. Anybody who believes otherwise really just wanted (1) Airbus to make the world’s largest passenger aircraft instead of Boeing, or (2) wanted to see what a full-length, double-decker aircraft would look like.

    The hub-and-spoke system was just as dreadful in the mid-90s/early-00s as it is today, and it will continue to be that way in the future. Except for a few thousand avgeeks, said nobody ever, “I want to make a few extra stops to get to my destination.”

    Back when the 380 was being designed and promoted, the 787 (no talk of the A350 then, but now it certainly is part of the discussion) just made complete sense.

    What’s even worse about the A380 is it required substantial infrastructure upgrades at airports to accommodate it, costing municipalities around the world millions of dollars: jet bridge configurations, widening taxiways, and reinforcing runways. (There are probably others as well.)

    Shame on Airbus for ramrodding what’s nothing more than a penis extension through production. Sure, the oversized bathrooms are fun and the idea of a double-decker aircraft is intriguing, but they’re not enough to justify an airplane.

    Today, Airbus reaped what it sowed, although the hidden misfortune is that which affects taxpayers around the globe, and specifically the European taxpayer.

  4. I always find it interesting when an airline retires all of their fleet of a model, then orders the updated version.

    Emirates used to have the A330-200, retired all of them, and now has ordered the A330-900
    Air Canada used to have the 737-200, retired all of them, and is now operating the 737MAX8.

  5. The airlines are doing this not in favour of the passenger for price.
    Many older 747s, a340s and a380s will be repacked much smaller jets that are only configured half as economy.
    When demand picks up again it will be as a carrier cartel and the end of cheap flying in economy.
    Enjoy the golden age of affordable and easily available transcontinental economy while you can, as the airlines smaller aircraft fleet choices do not favour this continuing.

  6. Looking back, Boeing got it right with their forecast (more point to point routes and thus forecasting high demand for a plane like the 787’s) and Airbus got it wrong (more hub to hub and thus high demand for very large aircraft like the A380’s).

  7. Other airlines who use the A330 and A350 don’t usually have first class seats in those aircraft, do you think that Emirates will follow that as well and just use an economy, premium economy and business class model with those models?

  8. Some here say the A380 was an ego trip for Airbus. It was twice the ego trip at Emirates thinking the whole world would want to fly with them through Dubai hence the ridiculous orders of +100 A380 aircraft.

  9. @Gabe
    Let’s not pretend Boeing won the calculation with the 787 either. They burned some $25-30 billion on a plane that was perenially late and is probably a revision away from breaking even. Boeing will only gain back the cost by attributing some of its R&D costs as investment in technology for future lineups like the 797.

  10. Somewhere around 2040 I would expect BALTIA/USGlobal to acquire a single A380, park it somewhere, and use to it raise a new round of funding.

  11. Think of all the airports that had to modify their gate setup to accommodate the A380 and now see little to no A380 traffic….

  12. I recommend you read this article that up until now predicted everything quite accurately : https://seekingalpha.com/article/4237960-will-emirates-hurt-boeing

    I know the A380 came too late, but I am always wondering if it came to early also, given areas like South-East Asia skyes are PACKED with aircraft. Just look at SQ flying a 772 to Jakarta (which is 1h away).

    Remember that program cancellation doesn’t mean that we won’t get to fly the A380 anymore starting 2021… Companies will continue flying them for a bit, seocnd hand market will ask for them. So don’t rush to buy A380 tickets, it will be there well into the 2020’s 😉

  13. Does this mean that in the future first class cabins will get worse? For example, Singapore have amazing suites on their A380s but a pretty standard product on their 777s

  14. JB has a good point. I’m guessing Emirates won’t be installing their new first class product on the A380 (if I recall htey stated it would happen 2021 the earliest?)

  15. EK’s fleet consistency was a double-edged sword, as it made it harder to serve markets that weren’t initially big enough for at least a 777, and frequency increases had to be in increments of 350+ pax capacity. Bringing A339 and A359s into the mix should help with some of those issues and open up some more right-sizing of markets

  16. While on the subject of A350-900 and a330-900neo, why is it every new aircraft these days end in 8, 9, 10? (eg. A380-800, 787-9, 787-10, a350-1000)

  17. Sad to see the A380 production end. On the one hand it was the most spacious and quiet plane of it’s peers to travel in and I got the chance to fly it twice on TG in F. On the other hand, it really was the ugliest duckling of any western-designed airliner of late. I hope the Airbus people who worked the A380 line find inter company transfers. And I will always wonder, as other’s have mentioned, if the plane was a few years ahead or behind it’s time, like the 757?

  18. Lucky – I remember you calling this aircraft revolutionary to commercial aviation at its introduction. Sadly this end demonstrates that while an engineering marvel, it’s economics are out of sync with today’s market. Most airlines can fill a plane that big from time to time, but even on routes that were slot constrained it seems people demanded frequency over capacity of aircraft. Plus every airline wants their routes and while some thought the A380 would provide a premium, when it did, it was not enough of one to justify its cost structure. Sad to see it go, but not surprised.

  19. Mark’s rant, brought to you by Boeing…

    One could say Airbus also didn’t help itself by producing the A350. Unless they knew the A380 was doomed in the long run, and that’s why they brought out the A350…

    I am a bit sad to see the A380 stop being produced. It’s a comfortable ride, and I never found it to be as ugly as others seem to. But hey, it will still be around for a few more decades, so it’s not like it’ll be gone completely within the next few years.

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