Airbus plans to slow the assembly rate of its A380 superjumbo to one aircraft per month from next year, the head of the A380 programme told Le Figaro, as the European planemaker struggles to revive sales of the world’s largest passenger jet.
This slowdown is to come a year earlier than the company had previously planned.
“This decision allows us to smooth our deliveries pending new orders,” Alain Flourens told the French newspaper. Airbus’ assembly rate for the A380 currently stands at 2.5 craft per month.
Airbus has said the double-decker is still attractive because it believes it helps solve airport congestion and growing air traffic.
But sales of large four-engine airliners such as the 544-seat A380 have been hit hard by improvements in the range and efficiency of smaller two-engined models, which can be easier to fill.
“The A380 still has a place in the Airbus product portfolio,” Flourens said, adding that Airbus plans to improve the plane’s efficiency.
In July, the plane maker said it would make the production cut to one plane a month in 2018. At the time, Emirates, the biggest customer of the A380, said the delivery schedule of its planes would no be affected by the cuts. The carrier currently has 62 of the A380s on order.
The A380 programme has been in question since 2014, when Airbus first raised the possibility of discontinuing production because of a lack of new orders. That triggered a number of exchanges between executives from Emirates and Airbus over the programme’s future.
* Reuters, with additional reporting by The National
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