The troubled A380 airliner of Airbus will be given a lifeline when Emirates, a Gulf carrier, offers a multi-billion dollar order for the “superjumbo” jets.
The said deal will help keep the production of the double-decker aircraft running for years and aid in maintaining supply chains.
Airbus, which produces the wings for the A380 at the company’s site in Broughton, North Wales, has revealed a series of cuts to the rate it turns out the badly selling jet. By 2019, only eight units will be constructed per year under present plans. The announcement of the order is anticipated to come at the Dubai air show which starts today.
Sources that are close to the pan-European aerospace business say that it is likely to be for seventeen aircrafts that are worth between $7bn and $8bn (£5.3bn-£6.1bn), though, with options, the order could ultimately be higher.
Emirates is the largest client for the A380, having taken delivery of the company’s 100th aircraft earlier in November. The carrier already has an additional 42 orders of the A380s. Airbus has found it hard to look for buyers for the A380, having handed more than 217 of the 317 it has taken orders for.
However, several buyers are not foreseen to honour their agreements, and with no new buyers in 2016, the future of the programme is in doubt. An aviation analyst, Alex Macheras, stated: “Emirates is the one airline that has been able to get the best out of the A380 with its many long-haul routes. Passengers seek out the A380, and the airline has been able to work with that.”
The Emirates president, Tim Clark, has earlier uttered interest in the idea of an “A380neo” which is a modernised jet with more efficient engines. However, the large expense of developing the aircraft has held back Airbus from proceeding with the concept. At the Paris air show during the summer, Airbus unveiled an “A380plus” that features winglets and new aerodynamics to lessen fuel consumption by 4pc.
However, introducing an A380 that is more efficient could push down the value of the present model, and Clark has warned that Emirates “does not want to be left with aircraft that have no value.” Macheras also added: “The A380 needs more orders to be sustainable and Airbus has met Emirates halfway with the A380plus.”
The list price for one A380 is $437m. However, airlines normally secure discounts. With the A380 facing Clark’s concerns and a dearth of customers, Emirates might purchase them at a much lower price than normal. The first A380 that has gone into service was retired this week. The jet, which first allowed passengers on board in 2007, was brought back by Singapore Airlines, its operator, to the European leasing company which owns the unit.