After ongoing discussions with Airbus, Qantas has elected to cancel their remaining order for eight A380-800s following years of deferrals.
Qantas placed their order for 20 Airbus A380s back in 2006, however has only taken twelve. Despite the cancellation of eight, the airline states it’s committed to operating the aircraft in the long run, indicating there are no plans to retire their aircraft yet. This corresponds with their plans to overhaul the interiors starting from the middle of this year.
Official figures from Airbus will confirm this cancellation on paper on the 14th of February when they’re expected to release their January orders and deliveries results. Airbus states they’ve agreed to the contract amendment announced by Qantas.
The decision follows further doubt about the future of the aircraft when Emirates and Airbus disclosed talks were being held about their order. The Airbus A350, A330neo and Boeing 777X are currently the aircraft Emirates are examining to potentially replace their A380 order. You can read more about this in the article below.
People familiar with the discussions state Airbus is aiming to close the A380 production line sooner than expected due to the slow production rate and lack of earnings being produced by the aircraft.
Qantas hasn’t indicated any intentions to introduce more A380s in quite some time and Chief Executive, Alan Joyce, has said to media numerous times that he is happy with how many he has. No announcement has been made by Alan Joyce or any other Qantas executives or spokesman regarding what the cancellation terms are, whether they’d be converting to the smaller A350 for Project Sunrise as discussed in the aviation community or if they’d pay the cancellation fees if there are any at all.
Qantas operates their A380s to the following destinations from Melbourne and Sydney:
Sam Chui has traveled on the Qantas A380 before. You can read his review here:
With the Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner now established in their fleet and operating the lengthy flights from Perth to London and back, the Qantas fleet has been tossed around a bit to compensate for their fleet renewal plan. Nine Boeing 747-400s (six 747-400ERs, three 747-400s) will be departing the fleet later this year to be replaced by an additional six 787-9s due later this year through to next year.
Project Sunrise – Qantas’ goal to achieve non-stop flights from the east cost of Australia to London and New York – will see further developments in the very near future as Qantas recently stated that Airbus and Boeing have aircraft capable of operating the flights with a profitable payload and comfortable cabins. The Boeing 777-8 and a long-range version of the Airbus A350-1000 are currently on the planning board.
Recently Qantas determined what passengers really want on long-haul aircraft. You can see the results here:
“The A380 was a game changer, but maybe it came at the wrong time with fuel prices skyrocketing after its introduction. As an aircraft, its very well suited to routes that require high-capacity.”
Qatar operates their fleet of 10 A380s from Doha to destinations such as Paris-CDG, Frankfurt and London-Heathrow and is happy with the aircraft he has.
He added to his comment about the aircraft:
“To me, the aircraft is very heavy, has very high fuel consumption, and that’s because the aircraft structure was built for a stretch. I think Airbus made the same mistake they made with the A330 and A340, which had the common wing.”
Since its launch in the early 2000s, Airbus has recorded 321 orders for the A380. As of December 2018, 234 have been delivered, leaving 87 left on the backlog. Production of the aircraft will now chug along, with Airbus only aiming to deliver eight this year.
Plans to make the aircraft more efficient never really gained airline attention, with Airbus adding new winglets, increasing maintenance intervals, adjusting wing aerodynamics and changing the cabin to accept new seats. This plan was dubbed the A380plus but never took off.
British Airways is interesting in purchasing more A380s, however with Airbus selling the aircraft at a high price and more airlines walking away, the future of the aircraft is not looking good. Talks with Emirates are aimed to be concluded by April when Airbus receives a new CEO.
What are your thoughts on the A380 program? Dead end or plenty of skies ahead?