Qantas has formally cancelled a longstanding order for eight Airbus A380 superjumbo jets.
The decision comes as new doubts have been raised about the future of the four-engined aircraft.
Last year Emirates Airlines struck a $16 billion (£12.3 billion) deal to buy 36 A380s, but it is now exploring switching some orders to the smaller A350. The move has Airbus looking closely at closing A380 factories sooner than expected, people familiar with the matter told Reuters last week.
Australian flag carrier Qantas has announced it has formally cancelled a longstanding order for eight new A380 superjumbo jets
Today, a Qantas spokesman said the airline had formalised its decision to cancel the order for eight A380s, which was made in 2006, following discussions with Airbus.
‘These aircraft have not been part of the airline’s fleet and network plans for some time,’ the Qantas spokesman said.
The Australian carrier has 12 A380s in its fleet and the spokesman said it would proceed with plans to refurbish the cabins starting in the middle of this year, with the jets set to remain flying with the airline ‘well into the future’.
An Airbus spokesman said the manufacturer had agreed to the ‘contract amendment’ announced by Qantas.
‘This change will be reflected in our end January order and delivery tables,’ the Airbus spokesman added.
The spokesman declined to comment on the terms of the cancellation.
It comes after another order long viewed as doubtful for 10 A380s from Hong Kong Airlines was removed last month following negotiations.
Willie Walsh, the CEO of British Airways parent IAG , said last week that Airbus should lower the price of the A380 if it wanted to sell more of them.
The Australian carrier has 12 A380s in its fleet and the spokesman said it would proceed with plans to refurbish the cabins starting in the middle of this year
The A380 has a list price of $445.6 million (£344 million), but airlines typically receive significant discounts from manufacturers.
Launched a decade ago the double-decker plane was hailed as a revolution for the industry and a challenge to Boeing’s stranglehold on the super-large-aircraft market.
But the superjumbo has struggled to win orders, leading it to ramp down production.
Analysts point to customers demanding flights directly to their destination rather than following Airbus’s model of taking a long haul journey from hub-to-hub followed by a short hop on a smaller plane.
Qantas is expected to take delivery of six of Boeing’s rival Dreamliners sometime this year.
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Qantas cancels order for eight new Airbus A380s amid doubts over the jet’s future
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