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China not reason for Airbus pulling plug on its A380

China Daily | Updated: 2019-02-18 07:45

An Airbus A380 aircraft displays its prowess on the opening day of the 52nd International Paris Air Show at Le Bourget, in Le Bourget, France, June 19, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

Editor's note: Airbus announced on Thursday that it will end production of its A380, which is the world's largest airliner, in 2021 due to weak sales. Guancha.cn comments:

This is certainly disappointing news to fans of the giant of the air.

It is a good plane, but has proved too big and too demanding for many airlines and airports. In China, one of the world's largest aviation markets, no more than 10 airports have the runways that can accommodate it.

A major reason for the announcement is Emirates Airlines-which is the largest customer for the plane, operating 162 of the 337 A380s worldwide-reduced its orders from 39 to 14, which reflects the changing dynamics of the global aviation market.

The A380, which can hold 893 passengers, is built for transocean flights between global aviation hubs. That reflects the observation of Airbus prior to the financial crisis that the future development of the industry would be built on travel and transfers, with the large planes linking the main hubs. Boeing, on the other hand, bet on point-to-point smaller planes, which are more flexible and cheaper to run.

The A380 is more economical as advertised, but that only happens when all its seats are economy class, which no airline does. Instead, the planes are expensive testimony to the airlines financial power, if not spending capacity, rather than a means to save costs.

Interestingly, some people blindly attribute the shutdown of the A380 production to weak demand in China, a major aviation market growing at double digits annually in recent years, as the Chinese airlines only have five A380s in total-all of which are owned by China Southern Airlines-but this is a practical decision as the number of airports and routes where the A380 can be used are limited.

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