Airbus upbeat on A-380 despite sales drought

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 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 last month - 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 last year to just eight in 2019.

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

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.

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 next year.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 13, 2017, with the headline 'Airbus upbeat on A-380 despite sales drought'. Print Edition | Subscribe