By Alexander Cornwell and Tim Hepher
DUBAI/PARIS (Reuters) – Emirates, one of the world’s biggest long-haul airlines, is in talks with European planemaker Airbus over whether to take delivery of its last remaining A380 superjumbos on order, according to two industry sources.
The Dubai state-owned carrier has eight A380s scheduled for delivery before Airbus ends the programme for the world’s biggest passenger jet next year.
The sources said Emirates no longer wanted to take all eight A380s due to the coronavirus pandemic that has shattered global travel demand and which the industry expects could take years to recover from.
Bloomberg earlier reported Emirates was in talks to cancel five of the eight A380s.
An Emirates spokeswoman told Reuters the airline was in “regular dialogue with Airbus regarding our fleet requirements”, but said it did not comment on commercial discussions.
Asked whether Airbus is in discussions with Emirates about the fate of the aircraft, an Airbus spokesman said it was in contact with all its customers but that details remained confidential until any agreements were made public.
Emirates is the world’s biggest operator of the A380 jet with 115 superjumbos in its fleet. It once had a total order of 162 A380s but reduced it to 123 in 2019.
The airline had previously said it expected to keep flying the jet into the 2030s.
However, the pandemic has forced airlines around the world to reconsider their strategy and Emirates was now considering retiring some of its existing A380s earlier than planned, the sources said.
One of the sources said Emirates was focused on reducing the amount of leased aircraft in the fleet.
Airbus has nine A380s left to produce including eight for Emirates and one for Japan’s ANA. The last aircraft was due to be delivered in 2021.
(Reporting by Alexander Cornwell and Tim Hepher; editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)