Australian flag carrier Qantas on Thursday confirmed it would not take up eight Airbus A380s already ordered, the latest blow for the European airspace firm.
In a statement, Sydney-based Qantas said it would focus instead on refurbishing its existing 12 Airbus super-jumbo planes.
“Following discussions with Airbus, Qantas has now formalised its decision not to take eight additional A380s that were ordered in 2006,” a Qantas spokesperson said.
“These aircraft have not been part of the airline’s fleet and network plans for some time.”
The decision, which was expected, is another hit for the troubled A380 programme.
Airbus recently confirmed that it was in talks with Emirates to change an order of 36 A380 planes to smaller A350s.
Launched a decade ago the double-decker plane was hailed as a revolution for the industry and a challenge to Boeing’s stranglehold on the super-large-aircraft market.
Qantas’s decision to cancel deliveries of eight A380s ordered in 2006 will leave it with 12 of the superjumbos for the foreseeable future. (Photo: Qantas)
But the superjumbo has struggled to win orders, leading it to ramp down production.
Analysts point to customers demanding flights directly to their destination rather than following Airbus’s model of taking a long haul journey from hub-to-hub followed by a short hop on a smaller plane.
During a January 2018 briefing to discuss the previous year’s orders and deliveries, former Airbus Commercial Aircraft COO for customers John Leahy warned that a lack of orders threatened to close the A380 line in the near future. He noted that Airbus had engaged in talks with “a few key airlines” to support an aim to eventually return to producing 25 A380s a year, but he also characterized Emirates as “probably the only one in the market that has the capacity to take six to eight aircraft [a year] over several years.”
Since then Airbus has failed to sign an order for a single A380 apart from the deal with Emirates, which over the past year has negotiated unsuccessfully with engine maker Rolls-Royce for price concessions and performance improvements.
Qantas is expected to take delivery of six of Boeing’s rival Dreamliners sometime this year, and will continue to run A380s already in the fleet.
“Qantas remains committed to a major upgrade of its existing A380s, which begins in mid-calendar 2019 and will see us operate the aircraft well into the future,” the spokesperson said.
Sources: Qantas, FG, AFP