The A380 may be in even more jeopardy than it was before.
At the beginning of 2018 Emirates gave the A380 a new lifeline. For years it had looked like production of the A380 would end, given that the plane hadn’t worked out the way Airbus had hoped, with very few new orders in the past few years.
Emirates loves the A380, and has over 100 of them in their fleet. They’ve been able to use the A380 to scale their operations in a way that no other airline has. Other airlines have instead opted for the 787 or A350, which are smaller aircraft that are easier to fill.
In early 2018 Emirates signed a memorandum of understanding to acquire 36 additional Airbus A380 aircraft, including 20 firm orders and the option for 16 more. The deal is valued at 16 billion USD based on list prices, though I think it’s safe to assume that Emirates got significant discounts.
Since then, there have been reports that Emirates was reconsidering this order. Specifically, an impasse had been reached regarding the engines on these newly ordered planes, as there were drawn out talks regarding the price and fuel burn of Rolls-Royce engines that are already falling short when it comes to performance parameters.
While we’re not sure if this is related or not, Reuters is now reporting that Emirates is exploring the possibility of switching some orders for the A380 to the A350. If this happened, it would almost certainly spell the end of A380 production.
Usually airlines and aircraft manufacturers don’t publicly comment on what’s going on behind the scenes with these discussions, but Airbus has confirmed that it’s “in discussions with Emirates airline in relation to its A380 contract.”
Emirates has been such a big advocate for the A380, so to see them reconsider their order is pretty surprising, since them swapping some orders doesn’t just mean the end of the A380 for them, but also the end for the plane altogether.
Keep in mind that Emirates has also ordered 40 Boeing 787-10s. The airline has long been laser focused on having a simple fleet, so long term we’d potentially be looking at the airline having A380s, 777s, 787s, and A350s.
It’ll be very interesting to see what ends up happening here….