The so-called “superjumbo” is set to be discontinued, with thousands of jobs in Wales coming under threat as a result
European aerospace corporation Airbus has announced that production of its A380 superjumbo is to end in 2021, putting as many as 3,500 jobs at risk in the UK.
Emirates, Airbus’s biggest taker of the A380, reduced its order for planes from 53 to just 14, instead looking to the smaller, more efficient A330 and A350 aircraft. Over half of the A380 planes ordered were by the Dubai-based airline; the new deal struck between Emirates and Airbus is heavily reduced, but still worth $21.4.
“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,” said Airbus chief executive Tom Enders, adding, “Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.”
The A380 has proved immensely popular with passengers, if not a commercial failure. The jet hasn’t flown many important business routes on a regular basis, though Airbus did provide a website that enabled them to choose routes and airlines that the plane flew. The A380 has two decks and measures in at the world’s largest passenger airliner. Airports that the jet operates at have had to upgrade facilities to accommodate the plane, with the shortest commercial route that the A380 flew being from Dubai to Doha (236 miles).
The cancellation of the A380 puts the future of thousands of jobs at risk, particularly at Airbus’s factory in Broughton, Wales, and Filton, near Bristol, where a combined 3,300 employees construct the model’s wings and work on landing and fuel systems. Airbus has been quick to assure employees though, claiming a “significant number” of staff will start working on other models to avoid redundancy.
In the last twelve years, it’s claimed that over 190 million travellers have flown on the Airbus A380.