European major airliner manufacturer Airbus announced on Tuesday that its flagship A380 Superjumbo programme had achieved break-even last year, with the delivery of 27 of the aircraft to customers. This came ten years after the airliner’s first flight. Furthermore, last month, a new customer ordered three of the giant airliners.
To date, Airbus has delivered 179 A380s, all of which are in operation, with 13 operators in Asia, Australia, Europe and the Middle East. “We’re delivering 20 to 30 aircraft a year,” pointed out Airbus chief operating officer: customers John Leahy during the company’s Annual Global Press Conference in Paris. “We’ve got 140 aircraft in the [A380] backlog. That’s quite a few years of production.” He noted that this gave the company plenty of time to win further orders for the airliner.
“An A380 takes off or lands somewhere in the world every three minutes,” he noted. “One hundred routes are flown by the A380. … 20% of passengers [surveyed] are ready to pay a premium, even if they’re in economy [class], to fly the A380.”
With air traffic doubling every 15 years – in some parts of Asia, it is doubling every ten years – large airliners like the A380 will be essential to handle the increased traffic through increasingly congested airports, argued Leahy. “Right now there are 47 megacities around the world; 36 of them have regular services by the A380,” he highlighted. “Eight percent of all the passengers that went through [London] Heathrow last year were flying on an A380.” As no less than 75-million passengers went through Heathrow in 2015, this means that six-million people flew to and/or from that airport on A380s.
“We’ve progressively tried to reduce the beak-even [point] for the A380,” stressed Airbus president and CEO Fabrice Brégier. “And we will continue to reduce it and I am confident we can achieve it [break-even] in coming years with deliveries nearer to 20 [aircraft].” Brégier refused to identify the new A380 customer, because the client desired confidentiality. “It’s a new customer, a new airline – it’s not a repeat order,” was all he would say. Global aviation media are, however, speculating that it is All-Nippon Airways.
“We are working on other [A380 sales] campaigns right now,” affirmed Leahy. “We’re making good progress. We’re working diligently with airlines. It [the A380] helps them brand their product, differentiate their product, going forward. We’re working on sales campaigns for more than 25 aircraft.”