MIAMI — Qantas Airways has canceled its remaining order for eight Airbus A380s, noting that the double-decker plane does not fit into the airline’s future fleet plans.
The Australian flag carrier told Reuters that after negotiations with Airbus, a decision was made towards the cancelation of the order, which was placed in 2006.
Currently, Qantas operates a fleet of 12 A380s, all of which will be refurbished with the airline’s new interiors, including brand-new seats and enhanced entertainment options.
Qantas says that they will “operate the aircraft well into the future.”
However, the airline will not be taking over new A380s and is looking for a more fuel-efficient option.
The Australian carrier is searching for a plane that will allow it to fly nonstop from Sydney to London—a project that Qantas calls Project Sunrise.
Currently, the airline is able to link Australia with the UK via its Perth-London service, operated with a Boeing 787-9 Dreamliner.
However, Project Sunrise aims to link Australia’s eastern coast with the UK. Potential planes to fly this route are the Boeing 777X and the Airbus A350-1000ULR.
The Airbus A380, however, cannot operate such a route. And with the rising costs in the plane’s operation, fuel, and overall maintenance, the airline is actively looking for an alternative.
A380 Program Agonizing
This is terrible news for the A380 program. Earlier in February, the world’s largest operator of the double-decker plane, Emirates, also said that it was considering swapping its gigantic A380 order for the twin-engine A350.
Airbus says that they have agreed to amend the purchase agreement contract with Qantas, adding that “this change will be reflected in our end January order and delivery tables.”
An Airbus spokesman said the manufacturer had agreed to the “contract amendment” announced by Qantas.
With this cancelation and the potential Emirates swap to the newer A350, the Airbus A380 program might be on the verge of collapse.
With only 79 firm orders left, Airbus might keep the program running only if Emirates decides to keep its order alive.
Emirates placed an order for 20 additional A380s last year, including an option for further 16 planes—enough to keep the manufacturing line running for more than five years.
However, the future for the A380 is all but certain. Last year Virgin Atlantic decided to cancel its order for the A380, followed by Singapore Airlines not renewing its leasing agreement for a few of their planes, returning them to its lessors.
Later on, Air France decided to return five of its lease A380s to its owners, keeping only the owned planes in operation.
Next month, Japan’s ANA will take delivery of its first Airbus A380, with which the airline will launch specially branded flights to Hawaii.
Looking ahead, the A380 program’s viability is in jeopardy, giving way to Airbus’s much newer and far more economically attractive A350 twin-engine plane.