Did The Airbus A380 Program Ever Turn A Profit?

We all expected it to happen, but now it is a reality. Airbus has officially ended its A380 program. The aircraft manufacturer released the following statement:

“Following a review of its operations, Emirates is reducing its A380 orderbook by 39 aircraft with 14 A380s remaining in the backlog yet to be delivered to Emirates. As a consequence of this decision and given the lack of order backlog with other airlines, deliveries of the A380 will cease in 2021.”

Just a year ago, Airbus announced that the A380 program would live for at least another 10 years, or even become sustainable, after Emirates had placed a firm order for 20 aircraft with an option to purchase 16 additional A380s.

Emirates Airbus A380
Emirates is the largest Airbus A380 operator. Photo: Airbus.

But now things have changed. Airlines canceled orders for the aircraft, and the demand was simply not enough for the program to survive.

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Nonetheless, as Simple Flying reported the other day, the termination of the Airbus A380 program could actually be a good thing for Airbus. The aircraft manufacturer will have more resources to devote to successful and profitable product lines.

How many A380s did Airbus sell?

Airbus received a total of 313 firm orders for the aircraft. Most of these were placed by Emirates (162 orders) followed by Singapore Airlines (24 orders). To date, 234 aircraft have been delivered. Some of the open orders will be converted to orders for other aircraft. The remaining orders will be filled with A380s in the next couple of years.

Airbus A380
The Airbus A380 has transported more than 200 million passengers. Photo: Airbus.

By the way, in 2018 the list price of the A380 was $445.6 million.

Did the Airbus A380 program actually ever turn a profit?

Airbus spent about 25 billion Euro on the A380 program. This is more than twice as much as Airbus had planned to spend on the project originally.

A380 Final Assembly Line
The last A380 is expected to roll off the final assembly line in 2021. Photo: Airbus.

Bloomberg reported in 2015 that “[o]ne modest success that Airbus aims to celebrate this year is that it no longer produces each A380 at a loss, though the company admits the overall program itself will never recoup its $25 billion investment.”

Accordingly, Airbus was barely able to break even on production costs four years ago. The amortization of the original investment was not considered in this equation.

Based on this information, we can assume that the Airbus A380 program never turned a profit when we consider the huge investment the aircraft manufacturer made to start the program.

Overall

The A380 has been a popular aircraft among aviation enthusiasts and passengers alike. Even though Airbus will end the program in 2021, we will most likely see the aircraft for years to come.

Airbus admitted that it was probably ten years too late when it introduced the A380. Some people say that the project was doomed to fail from the beginning. Additionally, it looks like Airbus never even came close to making a profit with the airplane.

Nonetheless, we are glad we got to experience what a mega-aircraft looks and feels like.

Have you ever traveled on the A380? Share your experience with us!

1 comment
  1. I have flown on the A380 once. LAX to ICN — a very long 14-hour flight to Incheon on Asiana Airlines. Unbelievable experience. In Los Angeles, three jetways are configured to service and board the A380 to reduce boarding time to around 45 minutes. On the main deck where I was seated, the configuration and feel is virtually identical to the Boeing 747 of which I have flown on 14 times. (747-100 twice, 747-200 four times, 747-400 eight times). Ten across seating in a 3-4-3 configuration.

    Technological features included AC (both U.S. and international outlets) in each seat, USB chargers, an entertainment system by itself that could keep me occupied for a month (if I could stay awake that long! 🙂 ), and in-flight Wifi which was beyond capable. The excellence of the normal amenities such as the lavatories, overhead bins, seats, and especially the ultra-modern lighting was on a par with both Emirates (whom I have not flown on yet but I know several who have) and Singapore Airlines.

    The ride itself was incredible. We departed off Runway 25-R; the takeoff roll was longer than I was used to — about 65 seconds — since this was a heavyweight takeoff with 400,000 lbs. fuel on board but it was also unusually quiet compared to the 777 since half of the thrust is coming from Engines 1 and 4 on the outboard which are much further away from the fuselage. Once airborne and especially at cruise you could, like the 747 or 777, barely perceive you were moving. Very little bumps. The landing at Incheon was ridiculously smooth, a real greaser!

    EADS (Airbus) despite earlier engineering challenges did build a quality airplane that passengers including me enjoy. The engineering delays and the changing of the market absolutely doomed the market for this aircraft. Boeing knows large airplane design and definitely knows the market far better than Airbus ever did. They also had previous large aircraft to use as a starting point and knowledge foundation when designing the 777 and the 747-8, both of which will be very profitable for Boeing. Despite all that, the 251 A380’s that will eventually be flying will be around long after I am gone and I will definitely fly on the A380 again and am looking forward to it!

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