Airbus has officially confirmed that it is to end production of the Airbus A380 in 2021.
The announcement was made today, Thursday 14 February, as Airbus announced its financial results for 2018.
The Airbus A380 has been a presence at Heathrow for over ten years. It was on 18 March 2008, that Singapore Airlines flight SQ308 arrived at London Heathrow from Singapore Changi marking the beginning of scheduled A380 flights from London Heathrow.
Emirates and Qantas soon followed at London Heathrow. As did Etihad, Korean Air, Malaysian Airlines, Qatar Airways, and Thai Airways, albeit with varying frequencies.
Emirates now operates up to 7 A380 flights from London Heathrow a day. It is is the largest operator of the A380 by some considerable margin.
Last year, it ordered 20 additional aircraft with options for 16 more. According to the Airbus order book for January 2019, Emirates had 109 A380s in service, with 53 aircraft to be delivered.
However, Emirates has now decided to reduce its order substantially by 39 aircraft in favour of 40 A330neo and 30 A350 aircraft.
Beyond Emirates, there has been little appetite to order more aircraft. Qantas officially confirmed last week that it will not exercise options to add to the existing 12 in its fleet. There has also been a notable lack of interest in second-hand aircraft.
Some airlines have also reduced A380 flights at Heathrow. Malaysian ended daily A380 flights last year, in favour of the Airbus A350. Qantas has switched one of its two A380 routes to a non-stop Boeing 787 Dreamliner service to Perth. Qantas is also studying next-generation twin-engine aircraft to fly non-stop from London to Sydney and Melbourne.
Whilst the A380 has been popular with passengers, efficiency rules and it seems clear that airlines see the future of long-haul travel is twin-engined.
This announcement by Airbus seems to have settled the perennial question of whether BA will order any more aircraft. It has 12 in its fleet, with options for 7 more. It’s clearly serving the airline well, with a year-round presence on routes such as Hong Kong, Johannesburg and Los Angeles. However, IAG CEO Willie Walsh has always insisted that the purchase price for new aircraft is too high. With production now due to end, there seems no prospect of an order.