| 08.02,19. 03:23 PM |
Qantas officially cancels Airbus A380 order as manufacturer struggles to maintain production
Photo: Qantas has eight Boeing Dreamliners, which can seat as many as 330 people, in its international fleet. (Supplied: Qantas)
Qantas's decision to cancel eight of the 20 A380s it ordered is contributing to Airbus's loss of $US4 billion ($5.65 billion) worth of contracts.
Confirming its earlier signals, Qantas said it would not take any more of the giant planes and would stick at a fleet of 12 instead of the 20 originally ordered back in 2006.
"These aircraft have not been part of the airline's fleet and network plans for some time," a spokesman said.
"Qantas remains committed to a major upgrade of its existing A380s, which begins in mid-calendar 2019 and will see us operate the aircraft well into the future."
The cancellation confirmation came after the A380's largest customer, Emirates, began discussions with Airbus over switching some A380 orders to smaller models after it failed to secure an engine contract for its latest batch of orders.
Barring a surprise agreement to prop up the A380, Airbus is preparing to close production of the double-decker earlier than planned and could make a detailed announcement as early as its annual results on February 14, people familiar with the matter said.
An industry source said "it is the end of the A380", but Airbus declined to comment.
Airbus says 'one month does not make a year' after rough January
The spacious 544-seat, four-engined A380 is widely seen as a success with passengers but has come under pressure due to advances in the efficiency of the largest twin-engined jets.
One such dual-engine craft is the 787 Dreamliner from US rival Boeing, of which Qantas has eight in its international fleet.
At the opposite end of its portfolio, Airbus also reported the cancellation of orders for five of its smallest model, the 110-seat A220-100, a monthly order tally showed. Airbus recently acquired the A220 program from Canada's Bombardier.
The five planes had previously been assigned to unnamed government or private buyers.
The combined cancellations meant Airbus began the year with a negative net total of 13 orders after unusually failing to win any new business during January.
It delivered 39 jets in the same month.
Airbus, the management of which has stressed the need to overcome recent glitches in the supply chain and focus on delivering jets against a record backlog of orders, played down the lack of any new orders in the first month of the year.
"One month does not make a year," a spokesman said.
Boeing won the order race against Airbus last year. It has yet to publish data for January this year.