Farnborough reels as Airbus slashes superjumbo output

An Airbus A380 aircraft is seen beside the runway during the Farnborough Airshow. (AFP)
Updated 13 July 2016

Farnborough reels as Airbus slashes superjumbo output

FARNBOROUGH: The aircraft sector hit turbulence as European giant Airbus slashed output of its A380 superjumbo because of weak demand, putting a lid on plane orders generally at Farnborough.
European planemaker Airbus revealed late Tuesday at Farnborough — one of the world’s largest civilian and defense airshows — that it would halve production of its enormous A380 to one a month from 2018.
CEO Tom Enders said Wednesday he hoped the cutbacks would last for “just a year or two,” adding he remained optimistic over the jet’s prospects.
“We are all pretty up optimistic about the longer term prospects of the A380 and I hope this is just a year or two and then we can raise production rates again,” Enders said at the airshow, south of London.
“We decided back in 2000 to launch the A380 (and) little did we know what the world would look like in 2010, 2015 or 2016.”
He added: “We believe in this aircraft, the company knows what to do. We are proactive and I am quite confident that we will be able to (again) raise production rates.”
Enders said Airbus needed “to work harder to convince airlines that this aircraft really pays off if you can fill it.”
“It’s a real money making machine,” he insisted.
In what has been a relatively quiet show for new orders of planes generally, Airbus’ US rival Boeing on Wednesday inked previously-announced jet deals worth a total of $3.79 billion (3.42 billion euros) with Air Europa of Spain and Ruili Airlines of China.
Airbus on Tuesday revealed firm orders for 129 aircraft worth a combined $15.6 billion before the usual discounts are applied.
The orders included a vast $12.5-billion deal for 100 single-aisle A321neo jets from Malaysia’s AirAsia.
However the shock A380 announcement has stolen the show and reminded participants about the gloomy economic backdrop.
The A380 is the world’s largest civilian airplane, carrying up to 544 passengers in a four-class configuration or 853 in just a single class.
The jet has a list price of $432.6 million but it has not registered any sales yet at the week-long Farnborough event.
Dubai’s Emirates airline is the biggest client for the A380, operating 81 with another 142 on order.
“Airbus still continues to face the challenge of securing new orders for the A380,” independent aviation analyst John Strickland said.
“Its best customer, Emirates, would order many more but only if Airbus upgrades its... capability. This is something that Airbus is reluctant to do when it is not making money on the aircraft.”
Strickland added that airlines have a wide choice of large-capacity aircraft built by Boeing and Airbus that are cheaper than the A380 because they require only two engines, not four.
The superjumbo was launched in 2007 and has since received 319 orders from 18 global airlines, of which it still has yet to deliver 126.
Jefferies analyst Sandy Morris said the A380 also faced competition from Boeing’s 777-300ER long-range aircraft.
“The A380 simply ran into a very good all-round competitor in the B777-300ER,” Morris told AFP, adding that Airbus’ target markets of the Indian sub-continent and the wider Asia region has a limited appetite for the superjumbo.
“Those markets have to grow to the point where such a large aircraft is needed,” he said.


Jubilant cheers as Dubai begins one-year countdown to Expo 2020

Updated 20 October 2019

Jubilant cheers as Dubai begins one-year countdown to Expo 2020

  • Dubai prepares for eye-catching countdown on Burj Khalifa
  • Live performances from singer Mariah Carey and acclaimed Emirati singer and Expo 2020 ambassador Hussain Al-Jassmi

DUBAI: Crowds gathered at different locations in the UAE on Sunday night to mark its one-year countdown to Expo 2020 in October next year, with host emirates Dubai staging a spectacular concert, topped by a light projection on the iconic Burj Khalifa.

American superstar Mariah Carey was the star of the night, which also saw performances from regional artists including Khalifa, Shamma Hamdan, Abri and Funk Radius, Showcase and Jaysus Zain. The audience also grooved to a few Arabic tunes from Emirati singer Hussain Al-Jassmi.

A make-shift stage was set up at the Burj Park in Dubai’s downtown area to host the performances, while people also enjoyed a good view of the tallest building in the world. The countdown was facilitated by Emirati social media sensation Khalid Al-Ameri and Bollywood actress Shraddah Kapoor. 

A 3-minute firework display lit up the skies of Dubai as the crowd eagerly waited for Carey to appear on stage.

The 49-year-old singer sang her all-time favorite songs, including “Emotion,” “We Belong Together,” and a revival of the Motown classic “I’ll Be There,” to an enthusiastic audience who didn’t mind the heat and humidity at the outdoor venue.

The other six emirates also marked the occasion with free-for-all activities in venues such as the Louvre Abu Dhabi, Al Majaz Waterfront in Sharjah, Ajman Museum, Umm Al Quwain Corniche, Al Qawasim Corniche in Ras Al Khaimah and Fujairah Fort.

The events, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Expo 2020 Director-General Reem Al-Hashimy said, will “offer a window into the once-in-a-lifetime celebration that awaits from October 20, 2020.”

“The next 12 months will see us put the finishing touches to ensure an exceptional World Expo,” she added, in a report by state-run WAM.

The Louvre Abu Dhabi featured YouTube sensation Sandra Sahi, as well as singers Stephon Lemar, Layla Kardan, the Emirati Trio.

Indian band ROOH, singer and pianist Clarita de Quiroz, Egyptian oud player Rami Zaki and other regional artists were celebrating the count down at Sharjah’s Al Marjaz waterfront.

While the Ajman Museum hosted Arabic fusion band, pop-rock musician Hydyy, Emirati soul singer Chakram, poet Storm Fernandes, artist Humaira Hussain and MC Mohammed Enaba.

The 6-month Expo 2020, to be held at a vast new site in the south of Dubai, will officially open on Oct. 20 next year, with organizers expecting an estimate of 25 million visitors.