No airplane is bigger, more imposing or more expensive than the Airbus A380. Even though the company delivered the first A380 in 2007, it is still a youngster in aviation terms. The superjumbo is the star of the Paris Air Show at Le Bourget this week – visitors can marvel at the luxuriously appointed Qatar Airways plane, and watch the giant machine conduct nimble flight maneuvers.
Airbus is asking more than $400 million, or $453 million, for the model, according to the list price. For that money, an airline can expect significant improvements in efficiency and correspondingly lower costs. Yet despite these advantages, the Airbus flagship has ended up being a slow seller. The European aerospace company has waited three years for a new customer, but there aren’t any in sight.
The company finds itself in a dilemma. On the one hand, it urgently needs new customers for the A380. After production problems, this year Airbus might succeed for the first time in delivering 30 planes and get back into the black. But if new orders don’t roll in soon, production will have to be restricted starting in 2018, according to sources in the company’s headquarters in Toulouse. By then, profitable production will be all but impossible.