Qantas cancels order of eight Airbus A380s, signalling end of the ‘giant of the skies’

A close up of the current biggest commercial airliner in the world, Airbus A380 seen in Sydney, Australia on Feb 8 2009 when the A380s were new, having only been delivered for a few months. Ten years later, over 200 have been delivered worldwide.

Qantas has formally cancelled an order for eight Airbus SE A380s, as doubts rise around the future of the superjumbo jet.

The order, placed in 2006, was supposed to bring the airline’s existing fleet of 12 up to 20.

It comes as Emirates, the A380’s largest customer, considers switching its order for the superjumbo for the smaller A350, forcing Airbus to look closer at pulling the plug on its A380 factories sooner than expected, as per Reuters.

The 544-seat, four-engined giant may be a hit with passengers but is beginning to become a financial burden as advances in the efficiency of twin-engined jets continue to grow.

A Qantas spokesperson said the aircraft had not been part of the airline’s fleet and network plans for some time.

“Qantas remains committed to a major upgrade of its existing A380s, which begins in mid-calendar 2019 and will see us operate the aircraft well into the future.”

The airline looks set to replace the A380 and Boeing 747 with a mix of Boeing 787s and Boeing 777X or A350, according to the West Australian.

Airbus A380 maneuvering in airshow/Istock

Airbus A380 maneuvering in airshow/Istock

The drop in popularity for the worlds largest airliner is a combination of changing traffic patterns, fuel efficiency and technological advances, all of which throw the business case of the superjumbo out the window.

Put simply, they’re just too expensive to run with rising fuel prices and more fuel-efficient aircraft like the 787 and A350, which burn about 34 per cent less fuel, on the market.

Airbus has also been hit by the cancellation of several smaller aircraft ordered by unnamed government of private buyers, causing the manufacturer to kick-off the year with a negative net total of 13 orders, as per Reuters.

The company is expected to give 2019 forecasts on 14 Feb.

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