Airbus to shut down A380 programme if fails to clinch Emirates deal

Visitors look at models of an Airbus A380 and an Airbus A350 plane at the Beijing International Aviation Expo in Beijing

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Airbus has confirmed that if a deal to sell dozens of its giant A380 airliners to Emirates eventually falls through it will have to stop making them.

Emirates, the government-owned, Dubai-based long-haul carrier, declined to immediately comment.

While Airbus may have won the new orders race previous year, Boeing manufactured and delivered more aircraft than the French plane maker.

The air show ended without an A380 deal, throwing the line into question.

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Abandoning the A380 would be a disappointing defeat for Airbus, which spent many years and many billions developing the double-decker behemoth, even as skeptics questioned the whether the jet would generate enough demand to justify its cost and the bigger runways it requires.

On Monday, Airbus' outgoing chief operating officer, Fabrice Brégier, said "there are clearly other potential customers beyond Emirates".

Airbus overtook Boeing in commercial jet order numbers by the end 2017, with the French aircraft manufacturer reporting positive results this week. Instead, they placed an order for 40 787 Dreamliners.

Airbus sold 1,109 planes last year, 52 per cent higher than 2016, outstripping rival Boeing thanks to a raft of end-of-year deals, including a US$50 billion order for 430 A320neos from United States private equity firm Indigo Partners.

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Airbus is planning to reduce production this year and intends to deliver 12 A380s.

Airbus is facing multiple corruption investigations, notably in Britain, France and Austria.

The breakdown of 2017 deliveries was: 558 single-aisle A320 family (including 181 A320 new engine option, or neo, versions) aircraft, 67 A330 wide-bodies, 78 A350XWB wide-bodies (an increase of almost 60% over 2016), and 15 A380 Superjumbos.

Airbus announced earlier Monday that it had delivered 718 commercial aircraft, to 85 different customers, in 2017. "There will be challenges as always at Airbus, but these challenges are manageable".

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Emirates is the largest operator of A380s globally with 100 A380s in operation and 42 more on order.

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