European aircraft maker Airbus has announced it will stop making the world’s largest passenger airplane.
The French-based manufacturer said Thursday it plans to stop making the Airbus A380 in 2021. The A380 made its first test flight in 2005 and began carrying passengers two years later.
The A380 is the largest commercial airplane operating today. The plane has two full levels of seating and normally is equipped to carry at least 500 people.
The announcement came after the company experienced major drops in demand and sales of its A380 in recent years.
In the latest decision, Emirates – Airbus’ largest buyer of the A380 – chose to cut the number of aircraft it had already ordered. Airbus officials said Emirates’ decision left the company with no “order backlog” to support continued production of the plane.
Airbus chief Tom Enders said the decision to end the A380 program was a “painful” one. “We’ve invested a lot of effort, a lot of resources, a lot of sweat...but we need to be realistic.”
The decision could affect up to 3,500 jobs. It already cost Airbus about $523 million in losses in 2018, the company said.
Airbus said it would enter talks with labor unions in coming weeks over jobs that could be affected. Most of the positions at risk are in France and Germany, but workers in Spain and Britain also could be affected.
In a statement, the head of Emirates said the airline had been a strong supporter of the A380 from the beginning. It said the plane had become a favorite among many passengers and crew members. The decision to cancel the orders marked “the reality” of the current situation, the statement said.
Emirates said it had reached a new $21.4 billion deal with Airbus to replace some of the A380 orders with A350 wide-bodies and smaller A330 planes.
Airbus has promised airline companies it will keep supporting the more than 230 A380s currently in operation.
At first, many industry experts expected the A380 to outlast the Boeing 747, which is celebrating its 50th birthday this year. But many major airlines are increasingly turning to more mid-size planes to support regional flights.
I’m Bryan Lynn.
Bryan Lynn wrote this story for VOA Learning English. His story was based on reports from the Associated Press, Reuters and Agence France-Presse. George Grow was the editor.
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Words in This Story
commercial – adj. related to buying and selling things
backlog – n. planned work in progress but not yet completed
sweat – n. liquid produced through the skin
regional – adj. relating to a particular area