A new setback for A380: Virgin Atlantic drops its long-dormant order


London - Airbus has a new setback on the A380. The British airline operator Virgin Atlantic finally dropped its long-dormant order for six A380. The airline relies on more flexible A350-1000 instead.

The company confirmed the order cancellation on February 7.

Virgin Atlantic was one of the first airlines to order the A380 in 2001 but postponed its commissioning several times.

The superjumbos should already had been delivered in 2006, but Virgin wanted to delete the order in that year. Then the company agreed with Airbus to postpone the deliveries from 2009 to 2013, but that deadline was not met either.

When Virgin Atlantic ordered the A380, its 49% was owned by a major A380 operator Singapore Airlines, who later sold its share to Delta Air Lines.

Virgin, like many other competitors, relies on slightly smaller long-haul aircraft A350-1000 to replace its remaining A340-600s and 747-400s starting from 2019.

Airbus announced that 3,700 jobs were no longer needed due to sluggish demand for the A380 and problems with the A400M military transporter. Thus, the production of the A380 is to be throttled on annually six machines from 2020.

Qantas has also been holding open A380 orders on hold for quite some time. Last month, Qatar Airways made it clear that it would not exercise three A380 options for the time being.

The only major customer of the European manufacturer's superjumbo is the Gulf carrier Emirates. Airbus hopes to receive some new A380 orders from the British Group IAG and Chinese airlines.

Boeing has the same problem with the 747-8, but can hold the line with the Freight version.