At the tender age of 10, the Airbus A380 is already entering a mid-life crisis.
The double-decker aircraft has failed to win a single order from any new airline customer for two years now, and senior management was forced to come to the airliner’s defense in December after the planemaker’s parent introduced the possibility of axing the A380 outright. As the mid point of the year approaches, the plane has yet again drawn a blank on deals.
It’s a far cry from the jubilations in 2005, when the giant airliner took off for the first time, hailed as the star of 21st century aviation. Airbus said the A380, certified to carry as many as 853 passengers, would push arch-rival Boeing Co. out of the monopoly on jumbo jets it held for decades and herald a new dawn of travel, pairing ultra-luxury with mass transport while alleviating the strain on congested airports.
“It’s true the market hasn’t developed as much as we’d have liked,” Airbus Chief Executive Officer Fabrice Bregier said this month. “This plane was probably launched 10 years too early.”
Bregier is now trying to breathe fresh life into the A380 campaign. Airbus has assembled a team of employees from within sales, marketing, engineering and design to lobby existing and future customers of the aircraft — including those who may buy the plane second-hand.