MIAMI — As the A380 enters into its first decade of service amid doubts about its future, Airbus CEO Fabrice Brégier has commented during an interview to The Sunday Times that the planemaker is committed to offer an improved version of its A380 for service by 2025.
In the interview, that took place during the 51st Paris Air Show in mid-June, Brégier assured Airbus plans to move to an “A380neo type” with an Entry Intro Service (EIS) between 2020 and 2025, just when the initial A380s produced would be heading into their final years before retirement.
“It’s clear that one day we’ll have to invest in an evolution of this family,” the executive admitted. “As the market doubles in size every fifteen years, we will also need a light stretch, and this aircraft is capable of it. It all depends on the market conditions.”
However, in a short statement sent today, Justin Dubon, Head of Global News from Airbus, confirmed that Mr. Brégier’s comments were always qualified with “if we decide… if we re-engine…. if we convince the board that we have a business case.”
In other words, the position of Airbus remains unchanged, “No decision has been made to launch an A380neo.”
The Airbus A380 is the biggest passenger airliner built to date and has become a tough seller as operators have opted to rely on slightly smaller and more fuel-efficient widebodies in high-density cabin configurations, which may provide better flexibility in case of an economic downturn. Boeing 747-8 has seen its production rate slimmed several times amid a sluggish market, relegated pretty much to the freighter segment.
As of this date, Airbus has reaped a total of 317 firm orders for the A380 and 162 aircraft delivered, being Emirates the largest operator and customer. Apart from the Dubai-based carrier, no other airline has expressed interest in a neo version, and it is unlikely to see an announcement in the forthcoming Dubai Air Show as the planemaker is waiting for more operators to receive a much needed support.