European airplane manufacturer Airbus will cease production of the A380, bringing an end to the one of the company's most iconic models.
"It's a painful decision", Airbus CEO Tom Enders said in a conference call. "We've invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources and a lot of sweat into this aircraft". But his company must be "realistic", Enders said, adding that due to Emirates decision, "our order backlog is not sufficient to sustain production."
The A380 cost $25bn (£19.56bn) to develop and began its maiden voyages 14 years ago, but due to low demand, the company delivered only 234 out of the projected 1,200 it expected to sell after the plane was first introduced, but airlines have shifted market demographics by purchasing lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft.
But Airbus and Emirates reached an agreement on Thursday to ship 14 more A380s until 2021, increasing the airline's fleet order to 123 units.
Mr. Enders said in a statement on Thursday: "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. But keep in mind that A380s will still roam the skies for many years to come and Airbus will of course continue to fully support the A380 operators."
After investing billions of dollars, Airbus plans to stop making the A380, the superjumbo it hoped would rival the 747 but never quite took off https://t.co/4uvmS9JlnW via WSJ pic.twitter.com/Cz5TLfdjtp— Intl Econ Observe (@IEObserve) 14 февраля 2019 г.
Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum said in a statement: "While we are disappointed to have to give up our order, and sad that the programme could not be sustained, we accept that this is the reality of the situation. The A380 will remain a pillar of our fleet well into the 2030s."
The A380 was Emirates' flagship aircraft and had "contributed to the airline's success for over ten years", Airbus Commercial Aircraft president and future Airbus CEO Guillaume Faury said. "Going forward, we are fully committed to deliver on the longstanding confidence Emirates is placing in Airbus."
But the two companies agreed to increase A320 and widebody purchases, which will help the UAE airliner expand its share of internal and regional flights.
Mr. Enders is also faced with damaging prospects for Airbus after warning the UK that his company could shift operations overseas due to ongoing Brexit negotiations, where he said that "potentially harmful decisions" could jeopardise Airbus's operations across Britain.