Troubled Takeoff

Failed Contract Ends Airbus A380 Take Off in Japan

An Airbus lands in Frankfurt am Main. Source: DPA.
An Airbus lands in Frankfurt am Main.
  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Airbus has been struggling to sell its supersized aircraft, which has been loss-making since its launch in 2007.

  • Facts


    • Airbus cancels the sale of six of its supersized A380 airplanes, worth $2.25 billion.
    • Airbus and Japan’s Skymark Airlines could not agree on the price.
    • The A380 suffered technical problems during its first production stage
  • Audio


  • Pdf

Four years after announcing a deal with Skymark Airlines, European aircraft maker Airbus has terminated the multibillion-dollar contract after both companies failed to agree on pricing.

On Tuesday, Airbus said it would not sell six A380 aircrafts ordered by the discount Japanese airlines for $2.25 billion (€1.68 billion).

Skymark has been flying through a turbulent business phase and, according to Reuters, has struggled to raise cash to pay installments.

The dropped contract is yet another setback for the A380, which encountered several technical problems after its launch in 2007 and has been difficult to sell.

To date, Airbus has a total 318 orders, of which 138 have been delivered.  The Gulf airline Emirates has placed orders for 140 aircraft of which 50 are already in use.

The supersized jetliner, which can seat up to 853 passengers over two decks, has a listed price of $370 million. It has not been profitable.

Airbus, the main rival of U.S.-based Boeing, suffered another blow last month when Emirates dropped plans to buy 70 of its smaller A350 airplanes. The deal was announced with a listed price of $21.6 billion, although airlines typically receive a significant discount for large contracts.

The terminated contract with Skymark is a setback for Airbus.  The sale would have introduced the A380 to the Japanese airline market.

Skymark is the only Japanese customer for the Superjumbo. Source: DPA.
Skymark is the only Japanese customer for the Superjumbo. Source: DPA.


Airbus is keeping a relatively tight lip on exactly why its deal with Skymark fell through. In an email, Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath said only that the two firms had discussed various options but the aircraft maker terminated the contract when the Japanese airline “made it clear that it was not going to perform its contractual obligations.”

Airbus still aims to sell about 30 of its A380 planes this year, and expects to make a profit on the plane beginning 2015.

The sale of other Airbus airplane models has been more successful with Airbus Group, which also includes defense, space technology and helicopter production operations, on Wednesday reporting better-than-expected results thanks to the sale of passenger jets. The group’s second-quarter net profit rose 31 percent to €696 million compared with the same quarter last year. Sales rose 7 percent to €14.6 billion.

We hope you enjoyed this article

Make sure to sign up for our free newsletters too!