Production of the Airbus A380 superjumbo may be halted if the European manufacturer fails to secure a $15 billion order from Emirates.
Outgoing chief operating officer for commercial aircraft, John Leahy, said: “If we can’t work out a deal with Emirates, there is no choice but to shut down the programme.”
A widely expected order for 26 of the world’s largest passenger aircraft from the Dubai-based carrier failed to materialise in November.
Airbus has just 95 A380s in its backlog but has not won a new customer for two years.
However, Leahy was quoted by the Financial Times as saying an order for the aircraft was imminent, without identifying the buyer.
“I do believe that we will have a 380 order within the next month or two.”
Emirates Airline president Sir Tim Clark told the BBC: “We remain optimistic that a deal can be concluded.”
Airbus delivered Emirates’ 100th A380 last year as part of 15 total deliveries of the double decker aircraft. This number will drop to 12 to be delivered in 2018.
Doubts over future production of the A380 came as Airbus revealed that it achieved more orders for aircraft than rival Boeing last year.
The company attracted 1,109 aircraft orders from 44 customers and a record 718 deliveries. Boeing took 912 orders and made 763 deliveries.
Production of the best-selling A320 single-aisle family of aircraft remains on track to reach 60 aircraft monthly by mid-2019, accompanied by an increase in widebody A350 XWB production to ten a month by the end of 2018.
Output of the widebody A330 will remain stable at six aircraft a month, based on orders for the current A330ceo version and this year’s start-up of deliveries with the new A330neo variant.
The ramp-up in production meets the company’s substantial backlog of aircraft to be delivered, which reached an industry record of 7,265 at the end of 2017 valued at $1.059 trillion at list prices.
Leahy, who retires this month, said Airbus has been the world’s largest commercial aircraft manufacturer in nine of the past ten – winning 53% of all orders.
In the single-aisle jetliner market, Airbus outsold its direct competitor in seven out of the last ten years, capturing 54% of sales. It has outsold the competitor in the widebody passenger aircraft market during seven of the past 10 years, securing half of all sales.
Chief operating officer Fabrice Brégier said: “A new Airbus delivery record coupled with our fifth best order intake wraps up a remarkable year for us.
“This outstanding achievement is testimony to the dedication of all our teams, and makes the company fitter, stronger and ready for the opportunities ahead.”
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