LONDON, UK - Airbus on Thursday made a shock announcement that it would cease deliveries of A380s as of 2021.
The company said its decision follows the cancellation of 39 aircraft by the world's fastest growing airline, and long time supporter, Emirates.
Emirates will take delivery of fourteen A380s still in the pipeline, but has decided it no longer needs the additional aircraft planned. "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," Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al Maktoum, Chairman and Chief Executive of Emirates said Thursday.
Given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, Airbus said it had no choice but to end rolling out the A380.
Emirates however has committed to ordering seventy smaller planes, 40 A330-900s and thirty A350-90s, to be delivered between 2021 and 2024.
The airline said it would continue using the A380s well into the 2030s, describing the double-decker plane as a "differentiator," abd the pillar of its fleet.
Overall, Airbus reported strong consolidated earnings on Thursday, having pushed revenue to €64 billion for calendar year 2018, and an EBIT of an adjusted €5.8 billion."Though 2018 had plenty of challenges for us, we delivered on our commitments with record profitability thanks to a strong operational performance, particularly in the fourth quarter," Airbus Chief Executive Officer Tom Enders said Thursday.
"With an order backlog of around 7,600 aircraft, we intend to ramp-up aircraft production even further. However, due to the lack of airline demand we have to wind down production of the A380. This is largely reflected in the 2018 numbers."
"On the A400M, we succeeded in re-baselining the programme with our government customers and their domestic approval processes should conclude in the coming months. All in all, we have achieved significant de-risking of the A400M in 2018. The strength of last year's achievements is reflected in our record dividend proposal," the Airbus chief said.
"In sum, Airbus stands on a solid growth trajectory and our helicopter, defence and space businesses are also in good shape as the new management team under my successor Guillaume Faury gets ready to take over."
As of 1 July 2018, the A220 aircraft programme has been consolidated into Airbus, gthe company said.
Net commercial aircraft orders totalled 747 (down from 1,109 aircraft in 2017), including 40 A350 XWBs, 27 A330s and 135 A220s.
Showing the underlying health of the market, Airbus said the order backlog reached an industry record of 7,577 commercial aircraft at year-end, including 480 A220s.Net helicopter orders increased to 381 units (up from 335 units in 2017) with a book-to-bill ratio above 1 in terms of both value and units. Order intake included 15 H160 and 29 NH90 helicopters. Airbus Defence and Space's 2018 order intake of around €8.4 billion included the Eurofighter for Qatar, four A330 MRTT tanker aircraft and two new generation telecommunication satellites.
The Board of Directors has advised it will propose to the Annual General Meeting the payment of a 2018 dividend of €1.65 per share on 17 April 2019. This, the company said in a statement, reflects the strength of the 2018 achievements.
As far as the future outlook is concerned, Airbus says it expects the world economy and air traffic to grow in line with prevailing independent forecasts, which assume no major disruptions.