Even before the pandemic took its toll on the airline sector, the future of the Airbus A380 was in doubt. Airbus has decided to discontinue the production of the Super Jumbo in February 2019. More than two years have gone, and the issue with the Airbus A380 has only gotten worse, as operators began phasing out the four-engine double-decker, which has a limited second-hand market.
Now that the Airbus A380 program is nearing to an end, AeroTime examines how many Super Jumbos are still on the way.
Airbus delivered two Airbus A380 aircraft in the first half of 2021. Both A6-EVO and A6-EVP Super Jumbos were supplied to Emirates, the world’s largest Airbus A380 operator. Airbus now only has three Airbus A380 aircraft to deliver. Once again, all three outstanding deliveries are on their way to the Emirates fleet in Dubai.
Emirates president said in late 2020 that the final Airbus A380, will be delivered in May 2022. The two remaining double-deckers, A6-EVQ and A6-EVR, are expected to be delivered in the first half of 2022. By May 2022, the carrier’s fleet would consist of 122 Super Jumbos.
Airbus and Emirates decided in February 2019 to lower the total order for the A380 from 162 to 123 aircraft and replace it with up to 40 Airbus A330-900neos and 30 Airbus A350-900 aircraft. As Airbus’ largest customer, Emirates, reduced its order book, the manufacturer announced the cessation of A380 manufacturing.
“As a result of this decision, we have no significant A380 backlog and so no basis to prolong manufacturing, despite all of our recent sales efforts with other airlines.” This results in the conclusion of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus CEO Tom Enders in a statement on February 14, 2019.
Airbus had 251 A380 orders, with the remaining three still to be delivered to Emirates.
The continuous delays in the delivery of the Boeing 777X are creating concerns about the future of Emirates’ Airbus A380s, which are set to be replaced by Boeing’s yet-to-be-certified widebody. With only three A380s left to be delivered, the question that requires an answer is how long will Emirates keep Super Jumbos in its fleet.
Emirates, which operates a sizable fleet of 119 Airbus A380s, reaffirmed its faith in the double-decker. “The A380 will remain in the plan until the mid-2030s,” Sir Tim Clark said on February 10, 2021, during CAPA Live.
However, Clark disclosed in a meeting with aviation analyst John Strictland that he doubts the airline’s first Boeing 777X aircraft will arrive before 2024, postponing the Super Jumbo retirement even more. A delay of this size could cause the A380 to fly even longer.
Aside from the A380 replacement delays, there are additional reasons to retain the type in service for a longer period of time. Particularly since Emirates recently debuted the Premium Economy class/seats on its double-deckers.
The world’s largest Super Jumbo operator will have to retire the type at some point, since Emirates appears to be planning to replace it with a variety of aircraft, including the Airbus A350, Boeing 787 Dreamliner, and the yet-to-be-certified Boeing 777X.
“With the Boeing 777X gradually slipping in to replace the A380s that eventually go and retire, we will have a leaner, very fuel-efficient, and environmentally friendly network that will probably be 30 percent larger in terms of cities served,” Clark said during the CAPA Live event in February 2021 about the Super Jumbo’s replacement.
According to Planespotters.net, 90 of Emirates’ 119 Airbus A380 aircraft are currently parked because of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.