The future of Airbus A380, the flagship model of the plane manufacturer from Europe hangs in balance. The only two factors justifying the jumbo are the need for transporting more people out of busy slot constrained airports such as Beijing and Heathrow and the Middle East airline giant, Emirates. The A380 super jumbo is lagging in sales and yet to make a profit for Airbus, hence the frame maker is not very keen on bringing in the neo version of the plane which has long been demanded by Emirates, the biggest customer of the aircraft with 140 of those birds on order. The airline has repeatedly said that it needs more of these jumbo to satisfy its need of moving more people around the world from its Dubai hub, but Airbus is not too keen to invest in the Research & Development of a neo version just for one customer. Unless there are more airlines looking for the plane, the current future of the jet looks bleak.
Already the A380 had a string of cancelled orders due to airlines going bankrupt only to be rescued by ANA which took up the 3 Skymark orders. And with the new more fuel-efficient versions of the likes of A350s, the 787s and the 777X are making the case of the super jumbo less and less practical. What remains to be seen is that is there still any demand for peculiar cases for the jet or not. Emirates have already experimented with the 2 config resulting in many of passengers to be crammed onto the jet. Air Austral wanted to go with an all economy version which now seems to be a rare possibility even in near future. Does that mean the end of the road for the super jumbo? Well only time will tell that.
Emirates which is one of the biggest Middle east carriers is already struggling with a bursting to seams airport which is further being expanded to handle 90 million passengers. More than that, many local governments are now waking up to block the airline from flying in their countries and diverting all international traffic via its Dubai hub. Case in point is India where the airline enjoys a huge advantage of flying out 60,000 passengers every week and it’s still hungry for more. Given that European countries are clamping down on the ME3 airlines from exploiting code-shares and fifth freedom routes, it would be interesting to see how the airlines change their strategies to adapt to that and still continue expanding especially in the fast growing economies.