Airbus' growing A380 problem

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Airbus has a growing problem with the number of A380s that will soon appear on the second-hand aircraft market and its failure to sign contracts for the sale of new aircraft. It has sold 318 A380s and delivered around 140. The slow sales has forced a production cut to one a month from the existing 2.5. But as world airline passenger numbers grow it is expected that airlines will eventually require the high capacity A380s to be able to operate between overcrowded major hubs.

Singapore Airlines has disclosed that it would not renew the lease on its first A380, which is owned by a German lessor business. Singapore has four more A380s that could be dropped but it isn’t saying what it intends to do with the aircraft. The city-state's flag carrier has a policy of turning its airliners over to retain a relatively new fleet with fewer maintenance problems that come with ageing airframes. Malaysia Airline is also seeking buyers for its six A380s which it will replace on prime routes with the Airbus A350. The airline told local journalists that it might increase its A380’s seat numbers by 90 before offering the airliners on the Chinese market. If it can’t sell the aircraft, it may wet or dry lease them

The money market, Airbus and airline executives are anxiously awaiting the market response to the second-hand A380s. Meanwhile, Qantas recently confirmed it would not take delivery of the last eight A380s of its order for 20 saying it has no use for them on its network. The Airbus list of outstanding A380 orders includes some which will probably never be delivered. These include six for Virgin Atlantic, ten for Hong Kong Airlines, and three for Russia’s defunct TransAero airlines. Amedeo, the troubled lessor, has a commitment for 20 which the industry does not expect lessees will be found. Meanwhile help could come from Hawaiin which recently said it is looking at A380s for long range missions to Europe and Asia.