The Farnborough International Airshow in the UK should be a time for plane makers to boast about airline orders for new aircraft. Though Airbus was able to use this year's event to announce an order from Virgin Atlantic for eight A350 planes, the company also revealed that it will be cutting production of its giant A380 to just 12 aircraft in 2018.
One plane per month is less than half the break-even point of 27 deliveries that Airbus achieved for the first time in 2015 after the A380 had been in production for a decade. Airbus delivered its most recent A380 to British Airways last month and plans to build 20 of the $432 million (about £325 million or AU$569 million) airliner in 2017.
Despite the cuts, Fabrice Brégier, Airbus president and CEO, said in a statement that the A380 is here to stay. "We are maintaining, innovating and investing in the A380, keeping the aircraft the favourite of passengers, the airlines and airports -- today and in the future."
Typically transporting between 450 and 550 people (depending on the layout), the A380 has the size to deliver unique experiences for premium-class passengers like onboard bars, showers and private suites. But to many airlines, the A380 is far more airplane than they need. Though Airbus initially projected 1,200 deliveries over two decades, since 2005 it has delivered only 193 aircraft to 13 airlines, with 126 order still left to fill.