Airbus upbeat on sales as A380 marks bitter-sweet anniversary

Fri Apr 24, 2015 11:15am EDT
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By Tim Hepher

PARIS (Reuters) - Europe's Airbus pledged on Friday to boost sales of its A380 superjumbo, as the world's largest passenger jet prepares to celebrate a bitter-sweet 10-year anniversary in the skies having booked no new airline orders since 2013.

"This will be a very good year for A380 deliveries and orders," sales chief John Leahy said, adding the planemaker was in talks with "several airlines".

Next Monday will mark 10 years since the double-decker made its maiden flight: a major step in the planemaker's efforts to compete on equal terms with Boeing and challenge what had been a cash cow for its arch-rival, the 747 jumbo.

Coinciding with the celebrations is another, unpublicized milestone: the A380 is about to reach the mid-way point in deliveries of planes ordered since its launch, leaving fewer left to build than are in service.

Sales of four-engined jets have wilted due to improvements in lighter twin-engined ones, placing pressure on the A380 and especially the now-declining 747..

Airbus has officially sold 317 A380s, which have a list price of $428 million each. It has delivered 158 so far and industry sources say it will deliver the 159th on Monday, passing the midpoint - an event that usually occurs later in the lifespan of a major aircraft program.

Leahy dismissed suggestions that the A380 was reaching a tipping point, saying there would soon be new orders. Airbus also says the jet will break even as planned later this year.

"I prefer to see the glass as half-full," he said.   Continued...

An A380 Airbus prepares to land during the International Air and Space Fair (FIDAE) at the international airport of Santiago March 26, 2014. REUTERS/Ivan Alvarado