Airbus remains upbeat about A-380 superjumbo despite two-year sales drought

An unfinished Singapore Airlines A380 parked at Airbus Facility Centre at Toulouse, France on Dec 12, 2017.
An unfinished Singapore Airlines A380 parked at Airbus Facility Centre at Toulouse, France on Dec 12, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

TOULOUSE - A two-year sales drought for the flagship A-380 superjumbo may have increased pressure at Airbus to keep the programme flying, but the European plane maker remains upbeat about its long-term prospects.

Speaking to The Straits Times at the company's headquarters in Toulouse, France, Airbus head of A-380 marketing Frank Vermeire said that discussions with Emirates and other customers are ongoing, despite an anticipated order by the Dubai-based carrier last month failing to materialise.

"We remain confident going forward (on the viability of the A-380)," he said.

Emirates, which has already bought 142 planes, had been reportedly close to making another significant order. Yet, there was no announcement at the Dubai Airshow in November - the event where analysts expected the order to be finalised.

The airline said it is currently still considering the order though it was earlier concerned that Airbus would not be able to guarantee that it would be able to keep its production line running.

Airbus has said it will reduce the number of deliveries from 28 in 2016, to just eight in 2019.

Still, during a media tour of its assembly plant ahead of Wednesday's superjumbo delivery to Singapore Airlines, the company showed off a bustling factory floor, with workers attaching wings onto an aircraft.


Staff working under the wing of an A380 inside Airbus Facility Centre at Toulouse, France on Dec 12, 2017.  ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI


Engine of an A380 inside Airbus Facility Centre at Toulouse, France on Dec 12, 2017.  ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Analysts say Airbus' backlog of orders means it will be cranking out A-380 jets at least till 2019.

The A-380 superjumbo which started flying commercially a decade ago, with SIA as the first customer, has so far received 317 orders.

To date, 221 planes have been delivered, with another 96 to go.


An A380 being assembled inside Airbus Facility Centre at Toulouse, France on Dec 12, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI


Singapore Airlines' new A380 is painted at the Airbus Facility in Hamburg, on Dec 11, 2017. ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI 

Emirates, which recently collected its 100th superjumbo, is the biggest customer, with another 42 planes to collect.

SIA, which has five new A-380s coming, has said it does not need more, and plans to also retire its first five A-380s. SIA's five new A-380s will be completed and delivered by the middle of 2018.