A380 program termination expected tomorrow

Feb. 13, 2019, © Leeham News: Airbus is expected to announce tomorrow the termination of the A380 program, a move that had been rumored for weeks.

Tomorrow is Airbus’ annual press conference for 2018 results. Its Board of Directors meets today.

Word emerged last month that Emirates Airline was considering cancelling its 2017 order for the giant airplane, swapping the 20 (plus 17 options) for the A350 or the A330neo.

Last week, Qantas Airways, as long expected, canceled its remaining order for eight A380s. This week, Qatar Airways said it will begin retiring its A380s when the first reaches age 10.

Few orders

There are ostensibly some 70 orders outstanding for the airplane, but 23 of those have been deferred indefinitely (see chart).

A big write off may be associated with the termination of the program. Also to be understood is the status of the launch aid for the A380 from Germany and France.

83 Comments on “A380 program termination expected tomorrow

  1. It will be most interesting to learn what they plan to do next with this space/manpower.

    • If the make it work that is a very interesting move.

      RR cuts its current throat for the future.

      Airbus cuts its current throat as the UF will loom over sales.

    • You HOPE it will terminate the 777X….but who knows what the roadmap ahead will be for GE and Boeing with regard to both the 777X and the 787.

      Don’t think the Ultrafan technology won’t be incorporated for the 787?

      • @Neutron73

        The 777-9 is too heavy. Its around 30 metric tonnes heavier than the A350-1000 (i.e. empty weight). Without the GE9X engine — and its 5 percent lower advertised TSFC over that of the Trent XWB-97 engine — the 777-9 would not be able to match, or slightly exceed the CASK of the A350-1000.

        Now, reverse the situation. A delta in TSFC of at least 5 percent for an UltraFan powered 79.5m, 320 metric tonnes MTOW A350-2000 — having a slightly larger passenger capacity than the 350 metric tonne MTOW 777-9 — would mean that an A350-2000 would do to the 777-9 what the 777-300ER did to the A340-600.

        As for the 787 and the possibility of a re-engining undertaking with an UltraFan; well, the main problem for that to occur is that Boeing seems to have made the same mistake with the 787 as they did with the 737NG, namely designing the aircraft without incorporating a future-proof design that is capable of being re-engined with much larger diameter engines — thanks to too short main landing gear (MLG) legs. For example, the fan of 70,000 lbs of thrust UltraFan is expected to have a diameter of 140″ — 6″ wider even than the fan on the GE9X.

        • Lets see, 737 was designed in an era of Tube engines.

          747, 767, 777, 757, 787 all designed in an era of large diameter engines.

          • The 787 has been remarked as ‘close to the runway’ , more so than other widebodys.
            Forward Fuselage clearance is 1.75m
            Engine nacelle clearance is 0.74m GE and 0.71m RR

            on the A330-9 the forward fuselage is 1.96 m clearance, while engine nacelle is 0.61m ( on older A330-300 the nacelle clearance was 0.69-076m for the range of engines)
            The neo is likely to be its last engine..

      • Ultrafan might come to 787, but how would that help the 777X? If anything it would only compound the problems for 777X.

        777X won’t enter service in any numbers until 2021, so the earliest timeframe for a 777X-MAX would be post-2030. But unless the orders for the current model really pick up — which seems unlikely — it will be hard to justify a re-engine (just as Airbus can’t justify an A380neo today, despite the obvious efficiency gains). It’s becoming increasingly hard to imagine a scenario in which the A35J (or some derivative) isn’t the biggest aircraft that airlines are ordering for the next couple decades.

        • UF for the 787 agreed.

          At issue gets into which version of the A350 gets the UF?

          That is 2025 to start. Program stalls and then any number of UF are into 2028-30 before the new revised A350 rolls off the line.

          Which one first? 1000, 2000, 900?

          And what airlines decide then, well I want to convert my orders I can’t afford to have a old non efficnet A350 (some mix there of course, some need it now, others can wait)

          So while all that hashes out the 777x sells or not?

          Phew, quite a bag of worms this opens up me thinks.

    • Guillaume Faury said a few month ago something such as “An A350-1100 would not deliver required economics with the current engines … msut wair for the next turbine generation.”

      Little did I know it would be so close.

      That, however also means that Emirates is doing really bad, because they woudl jump for the A380neo and the A380 would be the ideal test bed for a new engine. Remember: “4 engines 4 long haul” in case they are as un-reliable as those on the A320.

    • Boeing got 13 orders for the -300ER in 2018. Airbus got 1 order for the -1000 for the same period of time. Even the old model is more appealing to airlines than the brand new one.

  2. Thanks Scott, interesting news and an interesting day for a press conference. Wonder if there will be any “love-in-the-air” between AB and EK tomorrow?

  3. If true, a very sad end to a unique program that push the envelop (no pun intended).

  4. Sad news but expected. I have one question. In an interview last year, Qatar said it is waiting for a 319t A350-1000 so they can fly it to Melbourne and Sydney. That doesn’t make much sense since Etihad covered those routes (from Doha) with A340-600 and B777-300ER, both planes with less range.

    Do you have any data on the range of a 319 t A350-1000 and how that range would compare to a the 777-8 and 777-9?

    • Joe, Qantas wants to fly to London non-stop from SYD and MEL – without doing a stopover in SIN or the Middle East.

  5. Does this need official anoucement?
    I’m not sure.
    Maybe they just leave it open and see if there’s any demand in the future.

    You can’t make Amedeo buy 20 A380 without having any customer.
    Not when all otheres are phasing out the A380 already.
    Air Accord is in chapter 11, they won’t take theirs either.
    So it’s ANA and Emirates.

    I’m a bit confused why there’s no market for an Neo. Is the construction really so heavy compared to A350 and B787?
    It’s really hard to believe that in 2019, just 18 years after construction, the design is already abandoned.
    It’s just 12 years after 1st delivery.

    What a shame.

    • They will probably cancel most of the outstanding orders.

      And they have to make a decision at some point or they might build planes nobody wants. There is designated space and designated employees for the program. They can’t just “leave it open”.

      • Why?

        The only customer left is Emirates.
        They have about 50 A380 outstanding.

        So it’s up to them. Would be irony if they drop them for a order of say 70 A350 or 100 A330 neo.

        Amedeo will take something else, you can’t bankrupt a leassor by parking him 20 A380 nobody wantsto use on the lawn.

        Airbus does not have to make a clear cut, they can just leave it open.
        Built as mutch A380 as Emirates want, and then shut it down, unless somebody else orders.

        • Sash: The first aspect is the cost of an NEO and lack of buyers. I understand what you are saying, but the issue is not economics, its utilization and flexibility (or lack there of)

          As its simply too big already, too big and more efficnet does not solve too big and inflexible.

          Airbus has to start winding down long lead items if they are not going to keep making it. Those are huge costs and no return. Aircraft in general are not mass produces parts and low mfg number of A380 is low (as its a 747-8 – its engines are shared though)

          Emirates has put itself in a bind by TK stupidity over engines. He tried to force the issue. He went from a solid and efficnet engine in the GP7000 to an issue one in the RR (800?) and it can’t be made better to the tune he thought.

          He would have been better off offering GP a deal to upgrade the engines as much as possible in return for exclusivity.

          He is looking at used A380s he can’t sell (yes they can be kept flying but that has not been their MO)

          What blend of this is forcing Emirates to make a decision I don’t know, maybe all of it.

          But he is now stuck with a mixed engine fleet of A380s and the costs that incurs. He is not getting what he counted on from RR. Who blew what smoke? I think TK believed his own spin.

          Winding down a program is hard and you have to plan it, you can’t just whistle in the dark and hope is ok nor can you just waffle along and then axe it.

          Engineers, space, workers let alone the suppliers for all the motors, pumps, electronics and materials for the build all are long time plan elements.

          Contracts are in place and legally binding.

          Things I am not thinking about for sure as well.

          • About engine issue at Emirates:
            No issue at all. RR was willing to make improvement with an order of 50 aircrafts (way over 200 engines w. replacements) – GP wasnt.
            A380 fleet at Emirates is big enough to carry out even more engine versions, the run 100 now, no issue in having 50 A380 with RR and 100 with GP.

            I do agree with all the issues, I don’t see a NEO.
            I just don’t see why you have to cancel the A380 program now, with Emirates beeing the only customer left – but still having 50 on order. You can built these, and take it from there.
            There will be a day Emirates has to replace it’s A380s.
            How should that work?
            Ordering another 250 or 300 B779x?
            Will they have enough slots in Dubai and elsewhere to go from an average 550 seats in the A380 fleet to let’s say 380 seats in the B779?

            What would Airbus gain to make the decision now and make a clean table?

          • The reason that EK switched to Rolls is probably ‘cos they realised that Engine Alliance were not going to develop a neo under any circumstances, whereas RR had a potential neo plan. Shame it didn’t work out, but the again if EK ultimately goes for the A350 and A330neo then AB will have despite themselves snatched a precious victory from the jaws of defeat and have managers in Renton spluttering over their cornflakes.

          • Eole: Renton is the 737 center, Everett and Charleston the rest and Boeing headquarters is Chicago (no, don’t ask)

            Sash: RR offered all sorts of stuff, if you read the releases, the issue revolve around all those offers they can’t deliver.
            I doubt GP said no work, must not an NEO. Not justified and they can read the T leaves as well as anyone.
            TK went with pie in the sky – so do they buy A350 now or NEO latter? What do they do in the meantime?
            RR can’t do an NEO alone, they need Airbus buy in. They did not get it as Airbus could see the writing on the wall (and no stretch)

          • Yeah, it’s dangerous.
            No engine no programm, Beoing will jsut learn it hard way with NMA.
            There’s a certain issue with RR tangeling up with Airbus while Boeing is with GE.
            It’s basically not Airbus against Boeing anymore,
            it’s Airbus + RR vs. Boeing + GE.
            And as it looks like, RR is having some trouble.

            GE is not providing a engine for the A350, or the A330neo,
            the B777x is just powered by GE – only the B787 sees both.

            So the question was or is more like: Can RR deliver a good engine?
            How far are they with the advance and ultra fan?

            Besides that, nobody has shown effort for a A380neo, it was only Emirates. I’m not sure if that’s enough for a NEO, and if there’s enough to gain to make it a better plane then the B779x.
            Looks like they had to stretch it to make it efficient, but that makes a already super hard to fill aircraft even bigger.

            Imo it’s reasonable to not go for A380neo now. But I don’t see need to answer the question now, you can just leave it open and deliver the planes as long as Emirates wants them, and then make a decision.

    • If there is no demand now (and little demand for the past ~5 years) there is going to be no demand in the future. As years go by the A380 becomes older and less competitive. Airlines are not going to suddenly decide on A380s without Airbus investing money into major changes for the plane. In the meantime you just can’t mothball a production line. It takes up space/resources and suppliers will move on. Boeing can’t even make passenger 767s anymore despite the 767 line still chugging along.

    • Emirates would shrink dramatically without A380, because they do not have the slots at DXB to replace A380 flight with more flight with smaller aircraft. Originally the new mega airport DWC with a capacity of 240 million should have been open by 2017. But after the financial crisis and the Dubai “default” in 2008 they didn’t found the money to build DWC. The next opening date was 2024. But in 2018 that opening date has also been revoked. Dubai is still highly indebted and is still not able to finance the 30-50 billion USD for DWC.

      Now they say, DXB will be the main airport until at least 2028. But DXB has just 2 runways and these runways are close together (just 380m distance). So it’s impossible to operate both runways parallel. They could surely build another terminal at DXB, but there is no space for an additional runway and so runways capacity is the hard limit for aircraft movements at DXB.

      I do not know a solution for this problem. Should they merge with Etihad, because with the new Midfield terminal opening later this year they will have plenty of capacity at AUH.

      • The DBX vs DWC issue might save the A380 or make it reincarnate in 10 years time as the A380-900neo, still you need some other airlines to order it that has a similar squeeze at their home airport 10 years from now. Maybe SQ, BA, TG, China Eastern & Cathay Pacific.

        • I agree. Even if Emirates cancels the 20 A380 ordered just last year, there would be still 33 A380 for Emirates open. At the current production rate of 6 per year, that’s enough for another 5 years of production. So Airbus would have at least 2 more years, to make a decision for or against a A380neo. I don’t see much sense to terminate the A380 right now.

          But I also don’t see enough demand for an A380-900neo. More and more airlines are scrapping the first class for an upgraded business class. The 2 class A380 of Emirates has already 615 seats. If they put a seat density comparable to their B777 into the A380, then it would have 700 seats. Seat width in economy with 3-5-3 in the A380 would still be larger than seat width with 3-4-3 in B777 or 3-3-3 in B787. Scrap the large stairs and use the smaller washrooms and you can easily pack 700 seats into the A380 or approx. 650 with a premium economy. Basically that’s the already developed A380plus-cabin. For the neo “just” add new wings and new engines and the A380 would have superior economics – if you can fill it. An A380-900neo would probably have a 2-class capacity of approx. 800 passengers. Maybe Emirates could fill it at LHR? But on other airports?

        • Once a program is shut down its not coming back again.

          It would have to be at least a new wing and engines. Huge cost and gamble.

    • @Sash,

      I haven’t flown the relatively new Airbus A350 yet as virtually all of the destinations they’re deployed on to/from NYC are far beyond the cities I’m likely to visit in the foreseeable future, so cannot offer any opinion about that “big twin’s” impact on the likely imminent news of “the Whale’s” demise which would definitely prove that Boeing “won” bigly and Airbus “lost” catastrophically on their respective, long ago (as in circa 2000), “bets” (that cost both of the duopolists’ countless billions that for Airbus and its sponsor governments [as in taxpayers, that is], and shareholders is a catastrophic loss arising from a very distorted “vision” they all but bet the company on and might have bankrupted it, too, but for the billions of “launch aid” that now officially will be written off; and for Boeing left it with approximately $32 billion of “deferred costs” that only recently dropped to the “happier side” of $30 billion but yet still has a long, long, long way [as in easily on the UNhappy side of $20 billion] to go before Boeing’s vision/ “bet” for the future of long haul travel in the now and foreseeable future truly [and finally] pays off) as to whose “vision” now nearly 20 years later between its smaller, twin engine, twin aisle 787 family featuring “small”, “medium” or “large” variants with two models (small and medium) offering extraordinary ranges AND unit costs that previously was impossible to achieve using past, or then current, generations of any narrow body aircraft or even comparably sized twin aisle aircraft that for a variety of reasons (ETOPS, materials used in the pre-composites 787/A350 era, engine efficiency/technologies, among others) meant only the biggest, and much heavier twins (especially Boeing’s 777-300ERs), last generation Trijets, or of course, Boeing’s (still wondrous, iconic, much beloved and incomparable “Queen” 747) proved to be correct.

      But, for whatever ultimately explains this clearly catastrophic outcome for Airbus – be it “size” envy of Boeing’s 747 (which, let’s NOT forget for at least two decades leading up to the time the A380 was conceived and then launched was also Boeing’s cash cow instead of the low margin 737s were until Ryanair came along and maximally [ruthlessly] exploited the 737 to print money while making clear there was lots of coin to be made putting Boeing’s already then ancient narrow body to good use in high density configurations targeting low fare, leisure travelers that has since been copied around most of the world); national pride to “prove” equal economic, technological and manufacturing prowess with the USA as the leading economies and political powers of the EU were seeking to forge closer economic and political ties with the A380 perhaps also being a prestigious “showpiece” exemplifying a common, or “shared” vision that would convey that closer to home while also having the benefit of projecting power and prestige on the world stage; sheer arrogance and/or hubris; or who knows, a genuine belief that slot constrained airports like Heathrow and a few other major global cities elsewhere combined with rapidly expanding economic development in several developing countries around the world filled with increasingly affluent middle classes yearning to travel hither and yon would exist by now instead of another 15-20 years from now (as most experts expect and die hard defenders have cited as the A380 being only a matter of being “ahead of its time)…

      …or whether Boeing’s “vision” 20 years ago “hands down” is now proven as not just “more correct” but in fact a slaughter fest when compared to Airbus’s catastrophic failure with its repeated market forecasts of an inevitably certain rosy future for its A380 that Boeing (and it’s cheerleaders) most certainly will (and probably already has its press releases proclaiming its victory set to go at the press of a “send” key within hours (if not moments 😉) after Airbus makes it official tomorrow (goodness gracious on Valentines’ Day no less that for sure will live on in history books as the aerospace industry’s very own “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre” 😱) that it’s finally pulling the plug on the A380’s life support, cut its losses, and will let its beloved showpiece that yet still was resoundingly rejected as a commercially viable product where it counts, profits or in its case catastrophic LOSSES, and sets the stage for the planes inevitable death 😢

      And let’s face it, just as Boeing should do when vanquishing a foe as brilliantly and definitively as it come tomorrow, will officially have.

      That’s just an inescapable fact: Boeing “Wins” bigly while Airbus exists the stage with a staggering, mind blowing, “loss” on its vanity project that’s every bit the engineering and technological marvel that it is – but yet a spectacular commercial flop!

      WOW 😲 – how seldom does one see that type of dominance and shellacking in life!

      Of course, it doesn’t hurt that Boeing also mastered the art of cheating to score its big win with its “big [DENSIFIED] twins” that in the end means passengers contributed (subsidized/paid for massively in pain and discomfort being shoehorned/crammed/ DENSELY PACKED, etc.) “bigly” to Boeing’s whipping and slaughtering of Airbus’s A380 since once the those miserable and atrocious teensy weensy 17” wide seats densely packed into massive overcrowded 30”, 31” or of course one is really lucky, 32” pitch “no legroom” rows aboard any of Boeing’s hideous and disgusting nine abreast (so NOT a “dream” in economy class) faux “Dreamliners” (that neither Boeing’s nor the airlines’ that fly these appalling beasts C-suite peeps ever deign to fly as they expect 85% of us to…) or those equally despicable and atrocious DENSIFIED 777s with their (same as a 747 or A380) ten chicken coop sized seats per row have despite nine inches NARROWER than a 747 and even more narrow than Airbus’s A380 comfy cabins are.

      But, once the myths of “lower fares” (after factoring EVERYTHING such as “other carrier imposed fees”; fuel surcharges that were added when fuel was long ago $85 per barrel and higher but then never dropped when the price of oil plunged; and of course, the ever expanding and ever higher cost of [we’re doing this FOR YOU] array of fees, penalties, punishments, and hey, while we’re at it, how about full-on, outright forfeiture of everything paid, that is) were swallowed hook, line and sinker by enough suckers (yep, PT Barnum was SOOOOO right about that 🙄) to allow airlines (AND Boeing) get away with packing as many passengers into a 777 (even a puny when compared to a 747, 777-200 as United does, let alone the still horrible, disgraceful and disgusting 777-300s…) as until excessive industry and cartelizaton made it that much easier to screw and dupe gullible passengers into paying what is still considerable sums of money (I mean, since when did $1,000 become so insignificant and inconsequential that those who manage to have it can be viewed as cheapskates unworthy for a modicum of respect, let alone a speck of humanity, decency and dignity❓), but in the eyes of their airline overlords (and Boeing’s top managers) should be “thankful” that they’re “cheap AF” backsides are even being granted the “privilege” of being anywhere near the “better folks” ensconced in their ever expanding and ever larger, all aisle access, semi-private, mini McMansions that the pampered folk lay down comfortably while being cosseted – but, hey, to make space for on a single decked 777 (or 787) require half or more of the available floor space for just 15% of the passengers that is why the other 85% are now being told they “deserve” nothing more than the teeny tiny, chicken coop sized seat that they really should be bowing and scraping the privileged folk being pampered on the happier side of the curtain for being allowed to even be aboard the same plane as they are!

      I mean after all, how could Airbus possibly have made a go of its A380 what with its mismatched wings for its size, four engines and a great many airports not even able to accommodate it on a regularly scheduled basis once Boeing’s seat shrinkage and row pitch compression (more like successive turning of a vice with each passing round of new all aisle access McMansions being introduced as airlines only really “fight” over rich folks in the pointy HALF (or more) of its 777s and 787s even though (newsflash) not one, yes, that’s right, NOT A SINGLE SOLITARY AIRLINE can exist without the folks who pay mightily for the “privilege” of being granted access to board what are rapidly becoming shameful aircraft cabins defined as if caste systems with 1st, 2nd, 3rd – and now even 4th, classes all dressed up and disguised with intentionally misleading, and ever so clever, names all purposely created to better hide the long ago (and outlawed, too throughout much of the world) trickery and deceitful marketing and pricing practices that railroads used in the 1800s when some even went so far as actually having standing room only AND ROOFLESS, too, rail cars/carriages.

      Hmmmm. Does that sound familiar when one sees (or worse, suffers) the reality of a middle seat on a ten abreast Boeing 777 for 5, 7, 10, 12, 15 (or horrors of horrors even longer 😭) packed into a 31-32” (no legroom) pitch row aboard a 777 that has as many (or more) “seats” (if one can really call them that, that is) as a 747?

      Oh, did I forget to mention those “densified” Boeing 777 beasts while ferrying as many (or more) people as a 747, also have “passenger pleasing” (‘natch) four (4) or more FEWER bathrooms available than a 747 typically does?

      Oh, well.

      So, yes, as we await tomorrow’s official news of the A380s demise, which yes, at first blush, and perhaps in other ways, is a hard earned “win” for Boeing (and it’s already mostly privileged and exceptionally wealthy shareholders) in practical terms and overall “bragging rights” that vindicates its “vision” versus Airbus that Boeing surely will exploit for generations to come.

      And yes, having flown, or “lived” the dream that truly awaits the fortunate souls affluent enough, or in my case, mostly nimble (and experienced) enough to be adept at pouncing when those increasingly harder to find, and rarer and rarer moments when seats in the premium cabins are to be found aboard Boeing’s other (than its 747) masterpiece that truly is its 787 when NOT forced to endure the sadism, misery and discomfort that those nine abreast teensy weensy, chicken coop sized seats are found in their economy sections.

      For sure, when NOT in densified economy (and one must fly Japan Airlines’ unicorn 787s to escape that in economy 😉) Boeing’s 787s very much are a “dream”!

      And, just as its “let’s kill off the A380” by cheating and stuffing our 777s with ten seats per row so the combination of comparable unit costs, and easier to fill up aircraft and therefore waaaayyyy more profitable and unless it’s nearly full A380s cannot ever possibly hope to keep up with, much less beat, economics of our newly densified Boeing beasts for sure will kill off the pride of Airbus that stole our thunder and took away our title as the sole maker of the world’s largest capacity aircraft, too!

      So, take that Airbus! We win; you lose after all.


      Yeah, damn straight we beat your pants off by having a much better crystal ball than you did in seeing a future filled with our (only if one is in a premium cabin, but otherwise NOT so much) “Dreamliners” that really are opening up airport pairings that until our slimmer, trimmer and much lower weight 787s came along really were just pipe dreams of its otherwise way too small markets to possibly hope…er dream… of the day when they’d see fancy wide bodies gracing their runways and gates with nonstop flights to distant lands that for decades and since the dawn of flight had largely been the exclusive domain of the biggest gateways or maybe an interior hub airport until now that we said would have 8-seats in the back for its 5-15 hours missions (NOT 9 as nearly all of them now are)…

      …but it certainly didn’t hurt that we also had a “secret weapon” of swapping out nine seats per row for ten that you, Airbus, ⚠️ NEVER SAW COMING (until it was waaaaayyyy too late) ⚠️ that’s probably had as much, or more, to our outright slaughtering of your A380 than our “vision” did when we both stepped up to the poker table way back when and placed our widely divergent bets on whether our “vision” where our smaller, lighter, state-of-the-art 787 would crush your so last century inspired (clouded?) “vision” where hundreds, if not thousands (WOW – were you guys like SOOOO WRONG on that 🤯😱) of A380s would rule the skies after your, bigger than our 747 kills off our venerable “Queen”.

      Yeah, we at Boeing had to kill off and sacrifice our much beloved “Queen”, too, by deploying our secret weapon of 777s so packed to the gills and so very reviled by all, that even our, and virtually every airlines’ CEOs, CFOs and likely even our, and our airline customers’, own lowest level pay grade employees’ loathe and either never ever fly – as our C-suite peeps surely don’t and never will on a regular basis, if ever – while everyone else right on down to our lowest paid employees’, too, knows to avoid like the plague that these “densified” (translation: we really know how disgusting and horrible this configuration is but our too cool for school market peeps came up with some stupid, nebulous term for overcrowding that you won’t have any understanding about what it means anyway so we can get away with cheating in our “war” to kill off Airbus’s A380 just the same…) flying abominations truly are!

      But, hey, Airbus – you gotta love just how how well our worldwide fleet of “densified” 777s performed as our “secret weapons” and how quickly and decisively we, Boeing, achieved our victory in not just killing off your “Whale” – but the abject humiliation in which we pulled it off once we saw that no matter how much virtually every passenger who ever suffered even just one flight vowing to never again fly on one our nasty, densified 777s or 787s again once airlines and their shareholders saw the outsized, rapacious profits to be had by raping their economy passengers, whether you, dear Airbus realized it or not, your “Whale” was doomed no matter how much you tried to “save” it.

      And perhaps here’s the most overlooked irony of all:

      Wasn’t it originally Emirates who unleashed the beast (and misery) of ten abreast 777s that now finds its beloved Airbus A380s fast tracked into residual value hell, and much sooner than it expected into obsolescence and antiquity itself?

      Talk about the irony of ironies – and maybe even a failed “vision” itself since the same airline that built itself on a strategy centered on the Airbus A380, Emirates, and had hoped to retain its uniqueness via a business model predicated on a luxury brand where the A380 was the foundation of that strategy that it used to beat so many of its competitors in nearly every region of the world – or at least give them headaches they never had to deal with before Emirates emerged and then began challenging them for supremacy connecting distant corners of the world – for decades to come now finds itself victim of its other strategic plan to pack an extra seat per row fleet wide on its even larger fleet of 777s such that once the sheer power of the economics emerged from the lower unit costs arising from densification PLUS of course the gravy train of the pure profits that also flowed given the very low marginal costs of those additional seats per row, and passengers no matter how much we loathe those densified Boeing beasts lacked the muscle to push back on them – well, then, did anyone really think Airbus’s A380 had any chance of surviving?

      Yeah, I didn’t think so!

      RIP A380 😢

      • 🙂

        Also, had to catch my breath to find the first “.” in the post… 1903 characters/308 words in the first paragraph.

        You have to be German speaking/trained to get there without trying to re-parse the syntax (let alone the semantics).

        • That and Boeing did not have vision right either.

          A lot of routes are opened that are a main hub to a non hub, not non hub to non hub.

      • If the infamous 3.5 billion euros in A380 launch aid can generate priceless commentary such as this, well then I’d say that the investment was worth every penny 😂

  6. I believe there are about 8-10 Emirates A380’s part built or parts already built so I guess these will have to be made.That takes them to 2020.
    I guess they will nearly have their maximum possible 380’s at their home Base (120) by then.
    2021 will be the start of lease hand backs I believe.Will be interesting to see what level the fleet stabilises out at over time.

  7. Long time coming but did not expect the cut off this sudden.

    As noted, Enders cutting losses taking blame so the new Mgt can get on without that hanging over their head.

    It will be most interesting to see how the 777X fares. It may be too large as well ans the real sweet spot is the A350-900 down.

    • If you don’t have a viable engine, you don’t have a program. GP 7200 ending production and T900 20 year old tech by the time the last one gets delivered.

  8. There’s something I don’t understand about the payload-range diagram for this aircraft (admittedly the one I found on google).

    It shows the MSP (= Max Structural? Payload, I assume) as 83.7 Tonnes, but gives a line for max passenger load at just 52.5 Tonnes. A 52.5 Tonne payload corresponds with about 525 pax, and the 83.7 Tonne payload to around 837 passengers. Wikepedia says the aircraft’s max capacity is 875 passengers.

    I don’t know of any airline flying more than 600 in the A380, from what I’ve seen most are around 500 passengers or fewer.

    It seems to me small wonder it’s inefficient, it’s carrying too few passengers compared to its capability and its structure is too heavy.

    Am I right or am I missing something? Was the extra structural weight to facilitate a stretch, enable freight ops or could the airlines just not find 800+ pax on a regular basis?

    Link below;


    • Its not that you are wrong, its can you fill it?

      Its actually a pretty efficient aircraft overall despite its being truncated by reality of filling it.

      So if you put 850 seats in it and don’t fill 200?

      And its not that it does not work on some routes, it just does not work on a whole lot of them. Ergo, if you don’t have those routes, you can’t use it anywhere else (AF – Qantas – Amadeao)

      Smaller aircraft you can shift around for seasonal routes and increase frequency on the same routes. It may not be the most efficnet per route, but overall it works.

      As I noted, people in rubber rooms trying to figure this out and balance all of it out.

      Airbus got it wrong not because of tech, they got it wrong because they wanted to have the biggest bird in the air.

      • Hear! Hear!

        Maybe that’s why “pride” is among the “7-deadly Sins”

        But, still, such a spectacular (and embarrassing) commercial failure.

        WOW 😲 🤯

        Good thing taxpayers in Europe aren’t likely to revolt for the tens of billions losses in “Launch Aid” that will never be repaid as they probably would here in the USA! 😉 😂

        • We do not complain back home either.
          We pay these via military R&D and we feel good about it.
          Such R&D never, ever flows to commercial programs. That’d be unfair.
          Same as the state/county local tax rebates (think TMSC screen panel plant in Wisconsin — though the Chinese are smart enough never to actually bluild it. It was a politician bribe (Ryan & co.) and already seems ancient memory)
          We play by the rules. Of course we do.

        • Launch aid for A380 program was $3.7 bill, while Japan gave $1.6 bill launch aid for it’s 35% share of the 787 program. It’s not known how much launch aid Italy provided for Alenias share of the 787

    • Chris: The cabin is the difference. Typically a cabin weighs 50-70kg/passenger, depending on how lavish it is. So add passenger weight, cabin weight and cargo weight. That must be less or equal to the maximum structural payload

  9. I was a total believer in the A380 and no one could tell me otherwise. Heck I even got banned from other airline chat sites for my strident defence of the programme.

    The A380 could have worked, yet when many highlighted the rocky landscape in the superjumbo’s future, it made no difference, I simply put it down to scaremongering and vested interests.

    12 years on (to be honest, I realised the game was up about 6years ago) and the reality of the adventure, gamble, folly, call it what you want, is coming to an end. The A380 sold what it sold, cost what it cost. It’s impact on future Airbus programmes, however, is immeasurable. Suppliers and partners will be way more cautious before jumping on board. Customers? Who knows?

    I’m sorry, I should have listened to those in the know, not what I thought I knew.

    I live in a land where currently some people believe that their future is better in one direction, in spite of facts showing that it will not be. In a complete role reversal, I share the facts and forecasts of just how damaging it will be to make that decision, but the believers are undeterred, emboldened even.

    I get it. Have faith and belief and create amazing flying machines that passengers love flying but airlines shy away. Have facts and data and create amazing flying machines that airlines love and profitably move passengers and freight in. Follow the money not the notion of greatness. Crunch the data don’t munch the history. It’s not too late for my fellow citizens to change their minds. I think the deadline is 25 working days.

    Clock is ticking…….. for the A380, the end is nigh. Farewell my love, I will hunt you out in every schedule and fly you whenever, wherever, however to the bitter end.

    • Ebbuk: Some of us were ticked off at the launch aid so we had a reason that may or may not have been valid to discount it.

      So its not that you were the only one snookered, no one could really say if it would work or not until it was tried. The issue is that trying is an expensive endeavor and Airbus spun a web that was built on falsehoods.

      I have to admit I was quite a Boeing fan boy back then, we grew up together so to speak and its been the last 8 years I have seen how the modern Corp has worked and frankly detest it.

      Through that shift the sales for the A380 never took off so it met expectations I had already .

      If you looked at 747 sales data, it simply did not add up. 1500 some 747s in 50 years and no competition.

      When you looked at the break even estimates of around 750 and what Airbus said would be sales of VLA in an ever changing landscape of 777-300 and the ER it fell flat on its face.

      Things were distorted by the ME3 (777x as well) as well with the government involvement in those and the market bust that creates competition wise.

      Hardest thing in the world is to make a call on feelings when these should be made on facts.

      So my fact check on the 777x is based on its over reliance on the ME market that is shifting. People picking off that market on the edges. Aircraft having to be designed to meet awful ops conditions that don’t apply elsewhere.

      And flip this all into the 797. Totally unknown territory and what is the real market? We simply do not know.

      If they launch it, you can expect Boeing has enough feedback that it will at least meet its minimums (and provide the bases for 737 RS) – its also based on different payback and production system that Boeing’s working on.

      They did call the 787 market right with 1400 orders (so far). That is going to be at lest 2000 and more likely 2500 before its said and done.

      So it goes, follow, admire but don’t get too emotionally invested, they will break your heart.

      • I hear you TransWorld. My heart is broken. It may never mend but the concrete wall is now built, nothing will ever capture my heart. I too am a little older now.

      • I would estimate the 787 through 2050 at 4000 to 6000. Adjusting for growth or air travel at a modest 3.5%, that doubles numbers every 20 years. The 777 would be good for 4K instead of 2K adjusted to inflation
        The 757 would be good for 4K instead of 1K
        The 747 would be good for 8K instead of 1.5K
        Not to say the market isn’t fragmented, but to show 4K is historically conservative, and also, just how phenomenally successful the 747 was.

        • Ted: If it last that long yes, but the question always is, can you mod existing (737 endlessly!) or do you need a new air frame?

          I don’t think the 787 will last till 2050 even with mods. I could be wrong, it could be the next 737!

          I think you are doing a lot of apples and bananas comparison, we live and die in the era we are in and the future not the past.

          The 747 was successful, but as has been pointed out, its been a major change each generation (more so the -400 and -8) . The -400 would be the biggest success.

          I think 2500 for the 787 is pretty safe. Could be wrong.

          • Agree on 2500 for the B787 minimum. No way to 6k. Something else will happen tech-wise to warrant a redo.

            Let’s see what a 787Neo can get to. 15y since 2004. New engines at 10+% gain will get there sometime relatively soon.

          • I’m sure Boeing hopes to be building the 777-9 and some type of 777-8F in 2035 right? That’s a 40 year production for the 777. 787 and A350 should be no different, unless there a shift in design, which is entirely possible. Maybe 33% possible.

            If the NMA is any indication, new programs are becoming longer in the making if anything. Ultrafan on the A350 EIS 2025, that’s the joke of the day.

          • 777-8F: This one puzzles me seriously. The 777F is off the 200 air frames (ER).

            Supposedly that is the right size and the 300 would not work.

            So now (the 8 is the 300 size) and that will work.


  10. I agree. The 777X so far, has even a narrower base of customers than the A380. I agree that the sweet spot will be the A350-900/1000 at the higher end and the 787-9 at the lower end. The 777X is a heavy beast designed by and for Tim Clark.

  11. We could try quoting Mark Twain = “Reports on (A380’s) death are greatly exaggerated !” … we’ll be seeing those great machines around in the skies for yet some while, oder ?

    • It’s over even if it is not announced tomorrow. Sob, sob… i love(d) flying in it. Time to PIP the A320 even if in phases to kill the 797 eco return before it’s born. Though BA has to go ahead anyhow to keep the tech base as Lockeed+NGrumman now builds all the new DoD kits.

      RR really killed the A380 a bit earlier than it would have their sub-par engine re to the GP7200.

      EK’s model is being now attacked by those long flying new point to point monster. Who wants to connect in Dubai?? I don’t, that’s for sure.

      I want point to point.

      • Ivory: When did any airlines really care what we wanted?

        Well maybe back for 1980 or so.

    • Qatar seats 517 pass in its 380 configuration, could luck with getting a 400 seater 777X replace that . No where near ‘almost’.
      Thats like saying a 320 seater 787-10 is ‘near to’ a 777X

  12. Er, does this mean that Concorde will end up having had a longer service life than they A380?

    From a passenger point of view this is going to be a backwards step 🙁

    • production may end 4-5 years time , service will continue for another 20+. Concorde service life was 27 years.
      Could it be like the 757 , the airlines that had them loved it long after they stopped making them, as it filled a niche

  13. Something not mentioned re: this probable A380 shutdown—giving Murphy his due—it’s been amazing that one of these whales hasn’t gone down yet, with 500 plus dead. I’m sure that’s helped prolong the whale’s continued construction. I’m pretty sure there’s a probable airline /insurance company rethink/reset break point at over 500. Still, there are a lot of innings for Murphy to make his play.

    • Macabre gloating 🙂 a.k.a, partisan/no substance to the post.
      Not what i am used to from my friends in Bozeman…

      Well, thinking of it… RR again almost did that to them on Qantas years ago with an un-contained failure…but the plane survived very well (wing, et al.) Probably some excellent engineering there — and good pilots.

      • No gloating involved. It’s just Murphy lives, and takes no prisoners!

      • Agreed, post in not even bad taste.

        And arguably the Qantas bird was lucky. The wrote it up as a wonder, but the pilots dithered for 1.5 hours and tried to make it land on Auto Pilot despite repeated drop out due to the damage.

        This is a classic case of stop screwing around, put it on the ground (any ground) things are coming undone and its only going to get worse.

        Thank the authorities for build specs.

    • Oh, you poor soul. Sounds like you’re hoping for one to go down, but Murphy will tell you that you have to roll the dice as many times as possible, a number that isn’t staggeringly huge for an A380 compared to most other types flying.

    • Why would one ‘go down’ , the 777-300ER hasnt either. Thats sort of thing used to be said about the 747 , and there were plenty ‘that went down’, even two that happened to be on same runway at same time. Its likely the insurance cost per passenger km flown on a particular plane each year are less than for an A320 sized plane, which takes 3 x to get the same sort of passenger load.

      • They were extremely lucky dropping in that 777 just short of Heathrow a few years back. (British Airways Fl 38).

    • Not that improbable, right? 777 has 3x as many built as the A380, and it’s “only” had two accidents with complete loss of life. A330/340 have almost 4x as many built as the A380, and they’ve “only” had two accidents with (nearly) complete loss of life. Technically there has never been a single fatality for “modern” (post-1990 introduction) 4-engine wide bodies.

        • MH17 was almost certainly an accident! It just wasn’t the pilots that made the error. Agree MH370 was more likely than not intentional, but at the end of the day we can only speculate there.

          • Mike: In the gun world MA17 was not an accident. ND.

            It was at best a Negligent Discharge (ND). That describes what careless does and is.

            Call it a Negligent Shootdown . It was a deliberate firing, maybe not at what they thought, but it was no accident.

  14. So sad indeed! A beautiful aircraft just like the eye-pleasing Concorde. But both were doomed from the start. Concorde died the minute supersonic flight over land was denied. A380 dies because the airport congestion has failed to materialize in a timely fashion. It is not that customers hated it. They actually went out of way to fly in it. Does anybody believe, say 20 years from now, when air traffic is supposed to double, existing busy airports such as LHR (without additional runways etc.) can handle all that traffic without the A380? I don’t think so. Perhaps, A380 will be resurrected then with new more efficient engines, new more efficient foldable, high aspect ratio wings. One can only hope! RIP you beautiful bird, until such time!

    • Beautiful? Ergh. A380 was as ugly as sin. Its called the whale for a reason. Functional yes, beautiful, well a whale is more streamlined (does no have to haul Pax!)

      The A340 is a nice looking aircraft, good lines.

      747-8F is. Stretch DC-8 was. The rest, hmmm

      • Have you ever seen one on the runway or as they come into land ?
        Dont think they visit Fairbanks that often , if at all, their problem is drivers using Google maps to cross the runway

        • Anchorage, no one wants to live in Fairbanks! (climate change is helping)

          I have not seen an A380. Just pictures. I hope to see one (maybe in our local museum!) – grin – the plane that never came (FedEx would have had them coming thorough ANC if they had made the F)

          We do get the Dreamlifter (impressive, not pretty) – A340s (lovely lines along the DC-8-30.

          We get AN-124, C5 and AN-224 (and lots of C-17s) – While impressive, only the C-17 has looks and it still looks like it needs a stretch.

          A380 is functional, its not a good looking aircraft.

          Spitfire yes. Mosquito Yes, P-51 yes – P-47 (more like the
          A380, functional) P-38 (yes)

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