The A380 has been making news over the past few months, but not in a positive manner.

Rumors have been swirling around Toulouse that the A380 program is on life support, and only being kept alive by a faint chance that a single airline can save it from the scrap pile.   To rekindle said rumors, Airbus once again stated on Monday (January 15) that the A380 program is at risk unless substantial orders come in.    Airbus’ Chief Operating Officer, John Leahy, spelled it out very succinctly:  “If we cannot work out a deal with Emirates, I think there is no choice but to shut down the program”.

Emirates and their decision whether or not to order additional A380s will either allow the program to limp along for a few more years or begin it’s immediate descent into obscurity.   Expectations had been for Emirates to place a substantial order in 2017, but that never happened, thus the A380 program is now in perilous peril (for you Holy Grail fans out there).     Either way, the A380 program seems doomed, whether now or in a few years.

Emirates had the chance to step up during air shows in 2017 when large orders are typically announced.  It’s good publicity for both Emriates and Airbus to make such splashy announcements.   However with no A380 announcements at any airshows, it doesn’t take a genius to read between the lines that either 1) Emirates is tired of the A380 and is looking towards a 2-engine replacement in the 777x, or 2) Emirates is squeezing Airbus into some ridiculously  attractive discounts since Emirates is the one that has all leverage at this point.

Either is plausible, but I think option 1 might be what is playing out here.

If memory serves, Airbus had predicted a healthy market for over 1,100 A380s to fill the sky but since the types inception in 2005 only a few over 200 have ever been delivered.   95 are still in queue for being built, with most of those going to Emirates and a few to leasing agent Amedeo.   Not good when the existence of the entire A380 line hinges on one carrier.