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Airbus to stop the production of A380 superjumbo jet

14 February 2019

Airbus has chose to stop making the A380 double-decker after a dozen years in service, burying a prestige project that won the hearts of passengers and politicians but never the broad support of airlines that instead preferred smaller, more fuel-efficient aircraft.

In a statement, the company said it would make its last deliveries of the aircraft in 2021.

The decision is a boon for rival Boeing and a crushing blow for Airbus.

On Thursday, the firm said Emirates had chosen to reduce its order of A380s from 162 to 123 aircraft following a "review of its operations, and in light of developments in aircraft and engine technologies".

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said: "As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years". "For us, the A380 is a wonderful aircraft loved by our customers and our crew. Hence today's announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide". Net profit increased from €2.4 billion to €3.1 billion.

Airbus said it would continue to support existing A380s.

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What does it mean for jobs?

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Airbus said it will start discussions with its social partners in the next few weeks regarding the 3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years which will include workers at Airbus Broughton where the wings are made.

The company did not specify which jobs or locations would be affected. However, the airline shut down before it could take any of the five A380s ordered by it.

The spacious jet, which had its first commercial flight in 2007, was popular with passengers but it was complicated and expensive to build. Production was devolved to different European locations, with final assembly and finishing split between Toulouse and Hamburg.

He added: "The A380 is not only an outstanding engineering and industrial achievement".

"The very clear trend in the market is to operate long-haul aircraft with two engines [such as] Boeing's 787 and 777, and Airbus's A330 and A350", said Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of Flight Global.

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Airbus will end production of the A380 super jumbo after key customer Emirates made a decision to cancel 39 outstanding orders and just take 14 more.

Almost 240ft long and with space for more than 500 passengers, the A380 took the title of world's largest passenger jet from the Boeing 747 when it took its maiden commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney on October 27 2007.

But over the past two decades, a new breed of aircraft gained popularity, making life harder for the A380 and the Boeing 747, which has also struggled with the latest passenger version of its iconic hump-backed plane. With Emirates negotiating their orders, Qantas giving up theirs and just today Qatar moving on to another aircraft.

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 is capable of carrying more than 800 passengers, but most airlines choose to transport no more than about 500 people, instead decking out the cabin with fancy features from in-flight bars to showers and multi-room suites that come with flourishes like butlers and sofas.

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Airbus to stop the production of A380 superjumbo jet