The Airbus A380 is the biggest aircraft in commercial aviation, but for years Airbus has been struggling to find new customers for its superjumbo. In 2014 Airbus received 13 net orders for the Airbus A380. This article will look at how robust the existing order book is and will discuss potential customers.
The table shows that Airbus received 317 orders for the Airbus A380 and delivered 174, leaving 143 orders in ‘backlog’. However, after carefully analyzing the current order book I concluded that an additional 52 orders (or 40% of the backlog) is likely to be scratched from the order book.
Orders likely to be scratched
Air Austral (2 units)
Air Austral ordered 2 Airbus A380s back in 2009, but the airline said that an 840-seat superjumbo might cannibalize its network. Airbus and Air Austral have been negotiating about the deal, but refuse to comment. Having Boeing 777-300ERs and Boeing 787-8s on order I don’t think it is likely that the airline will take delivery of the A380. Instead the airline might be interested in the smaller Airbus products, such as the Airbus A350.
Air France (2 units)
Air France ordered 12 Airbus A380s and took delivery of the first 10 units. Delivery of 2 units has been deferred to conserve cash. The airline has been struggling for years and is having difficulties to compete with the Gulf carriers and low-cost carriers on the European mainland.
Amedo (20 units)
Amedo is the newest company to order the superjumbo, but the lessor is having difficulties finding any operators for the superjumbo and even had to swap slots with Emirates to get extra time to find any operators for the A380.
Unidentified Customers (10 units)
The order for these 10 units was previously listed as an order for Hong Kong Airlines, but the airline has been trying to swap the superjumbo for smaller aircraft for years now.
Other operators (18 units)
Other operators include bankrupt Transaero and Qantas and Virgin Atlantic, the latter 2 don’t see the need to add any more superjumbos to the fleet.
After carefully analyzing the order book it can be concluded that a lot of orders are still listed, while airlines are looking for a way out of the deal. Airbus probably tries to keep the orders in the books to make the order book look robust, scratching these orders would show weakness and would show that demand for the Airbus A380 is low.
Airbus claimed that it is currently talking with airlines to buy the Airbus A380. Potential customers probably are Saudi and Royal Air Maroc, both airlines are looking for a replacement for their Boeing (BA) 747-400 and could deploy the superjumbo during the Hajj pilgrimage. With these 2 new potential customers Airbus could add 30 units to the order book, which would be most welcome. However, it also shows the niche market for the A380.
•143 Airbus A380s still have to be delivered, after subtracting 52 orders of which delivery is doubtful only 91 aircraft are left.
•After scratching doubtful orders, order book for the A380 looks even weaker
In the worst case scenario about 50 orders will be scratched from A380 backlog, while in the best case scenario it can sell 30 aircraft on the short term. All with all, for the short and long term Airbus is positioned poorly with its order back log as well as with its entire superjumbo concept.