In a statement on Thursday, Airbus said Emirates would reduce its A380 order book from 162 to 123 aircraft.
“As a result of this decision we have no substantial A380 backlog and hence no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021,” said Airbus chief executive Tom Enders.
“Passengers all over the world love to fly on this great aircraft. Hence today’s announcement is painful for us and the A380 communities worldwide.”
The aerospace giant said the impact of the decision was “largely embedded” in the firm’s 2018 results, which showed a net profit for 2018 of €3bn (£2.6bn) up nearly 30% from the previous year.
Airbus said it would deliver between 880 and 890 new commercial aircraft this year.
What does it mean for jobs?
Airbus said it would start discussions with partners regarding the “3,000 to 3,500 positions potentially impacted over the next three years”.
The company did not specify which jobs or locations would be affected. But it said increased production of the A320 and the new wide body order from Emirates Airline would offer “a significant number of internal mobility opportunities.”
Airbus UK makes the wings for the A380, employing 6,000 staff at its main wings factory at Broughton in Wales, as well as 3,000 at Filton, near Bristol, where wings are designed and supported.
Why is A380 production ending?
Airbus hoped its superjumbo would rival Boeing’s 747 and counter the US firm’s dominance in the large aircraft market.
The spacious jet, which had its first commercial flight in 2007, was popular with passengers but costs were high and demand from airlines ultimately dried up.
Greg Waldron, Asia managing editor of Flight Global, said the industry was shifting away from bigger models such as the four-engine A380 in favour of smaller, wide-body jets.
“The very clear trend in the market is to operate long-haul aircraft with two engines [such as] Boeing’s 787 and 777, and Airbus’s A330 and A350,” he said.
Airbus will deliver the last 14 A380s to Emirates over the next two years, and the Dubai-based carrier has ordered 70 smaller aircraft from the planemaker.