Goodbye, gentle giant: Airbus to end production of A380

Airbus to stop making struggling A380 superjumbo in 2021

Airbus to stop making struggling A380 superjumbo in 2021

The decision is a boon for rival Boeing and a crushing blow for Airbus. A pall of mourning hung in the atmosphere on Thursday at its headquarters in the southern French city of Toulouse.

Emirates, which had built its global brand around the A380 and Boeing 777 and which also has 100 of the Airbus superjumbos in its fleet, said it was disappointed by the closure.

The Dubai-based carrier has today announced that it has signed orders for 40 A330-900neo, with deliveries starting in 2021, as well as 30 A350-900, due to be delivered from 2024 onward.

It took a charge of 463 million euros (406 million pounds) for shutdown costs, but is expected to be forgiven some 1 billion euros of outstanding European government loans under a funding system that stands at the centre of a trade dispute with Boeing.

Airbus said it forecasts similar profits in 2019, in line with growth in the world economy and air traffic.

Airbus will produce 17 more of the planes including 14 for Emirates and 3 for Japanese airline ANA.

The European aerospace giant confirmed on Thursday it would deliver the final aircraft, with its two decks of cabins and room for 544 passengers, in 2021. It is a differentiator for Emirates.

The damaged right-hand wing-tip of the Airbus A380, the world's largest jetliner with a wingspan of nearly 80 metres, is seen on the tarmac during the Paris Air Show in Le Bourget airport, near Paris, June 20, 2011. The Emirates decision to cut order by 39 may mean that in all 274 A380s were assembled during the life of this program.

But Airbus still had a super jumbo sized problem, having a large factory devoted to a building an aircraft that the market didn't want.

The A380 has been a favourite of Emirates' passengers, especially those in business and first class, which encompassed the entire upper deck of the airplane and was complete with a bar in the back.

The world's largest airliner, with two decks of spacious cabins and room for 544 people in standard layout, was created to challenge Boeing's legendary 747 but failed to take hold as airlines backed a new generation of smaller, more nimble jets.

Instead, airlines have been cautious about committing to the costly plane, so huge that airports had to build new runways and modify terminals to accommodate it.

Airbus spent $25 billion developing the double-decker, four-engine aircraft, which can carry more than 500 passengers while offering amenities like showers and a bar.

Just days after this announcement, the company appeared to get a lifeline with the latest Emirates deal, but last month Airbus admitted the airline might now be reconsidering. The project suffered production delays and cost overruns right from the outset.

The company did not specify which jobs or locations would be affected. Teams from across the region joined colleagues at other sites during crunch times, the quirky-looking Beluga freight planes would crisscross countries with parts, and the A380 was a popular backdrop at air shows for politicians celebrating Europe's achievements.

The A380 also boasted more than 500 sq m of usable floor space, enabling carriers to offer plush first-class suites, as well as bars, beauty salons and duty-free shops.