At last, Airbus have resumed handing over of the A380 to Dubai based Emirates. Despite an ongoing situation between the Gulf carrier and UK based Rolls Royce, it seems the logjam has finally been released so the program can move forward.
It was speculated that Emirates put the brakes on the delivery schedule, using their existing order as leverage in negotiations with Rolls-Royce for the engines. However, CEO of Emirates, Tim Clark, has firmly denied that the carrier had anything to do with the delays. He commented,
“It’s not us delaying anything, one of the aircraft coming now should have been delivered in February, we are talking about a compression, all of them should have been delivered last year and haven’t been”
Whether delays were caused, requested or had nothing to do with Emirates is neither here nor there, because they have now accepted delivery of the A380 that was stalling the programme, showing a positive step forward for Airbus.
Unhappy with Rolls-Royce
This particular A380 was fully kitted out and ready for Emirates to take it on last month. However, Emirates refused to take delivery at the time due to an ongoing negotiation with engine supplier Rolls Royce, over supply of the turbines for the gigantic aircraft.
Industry sources have said that the carrier is unhappy with the performance of the Rolls Royce Trent 900 engines on the A380s they already had in service. They said that a shortfall in the expected efficiency of these engines was unsatisfactory.
Eventually, at the start of November, the deal between Emirates and Rolls-Royce was signed off, ending speculation that the entire deal was in jeopardy. Today’s delivery of this A380 to the carrier is the first positive step forward we’ve seen since the entire shenanigans began.
No support for the A380
Without Emirates, there’s not a great deal of support for the ongoing production of the A380. In fact, their January follow-on order for 20 more A380s have been dubbed a life saving deal for the aircraft, keeping it in production until 2029.
Already Airbus have planned to slow their production of this model from 12 per year to just six, although a target of 12 deliveries is planned for this year. Eight of these have already been handed over, including four to Emirates.
A handful of other operators run these enormous beasts, but Emirates are by far the largest customer for this Airbus model. British Airways, Singapore Airlines and Air France all have a handful of these aircraft, although Air France are planning to reduce their fleet size by around 50%. Recently ANA took delivery of the first of three they have on order, although the order itself was made under duress in order to secure a failed airlines slots at Tokyo’s Haneda Airport.
The relatively poor fuel efficiency and difficulty in filling it to capacity has made the A380 one of the slowest selling aircraft in the world. Despite being in production for 13 years, just 331 orders have been placed worldwide.
As good as it is to see the Emirates programme up and running once again, you have to wonder just how long a manufacturer can go on with an entire aircraft programme supported by only one airline.