French aircraft manufacturer Airbus has said it will stop making its A380 superjumbo unless it reaches a deal with its largest customer Dubai’s Emirates.
In a conference call on Monday, the company’s outgoing sales chief John Leahy told reporters that he was hopeful a deal with Emirates would materialise but the programme would be scrapped if not.
“Quite honestly, if we can’t work out a deal with Emirates, I think there is no choice but to shut down the programme, but I’m hopeful that we’ll work out a deal with Emirates, and others can add airplanes on top of that,” he said.
Leahy added that Emirates was “probably” the only carrier with the ability to take a minimum of six A380s a year for the next eight to 10 years.
Emirates is by far the A380’s largest customer having taken on more than 100 of its total orders for 142 superjumbos.
Airbus was reported to be drawing up contingency plans last month if a deal with the carrier failed to materialise.
These included a gradual shutdown of production that would allow the manufacturer to produce the orders it already has.
The plans came after a deal for 36 planes, worth $16bn, failed to emerge at the November Dubai Airshow.
Airbus commercial aircraft president Fabrice Brégier said during Monday’s call that there were other potential customers but “it is clear that Emirates is key for the long-term future of this programme”.