Dubai Airshow: New Airbus A380 sales 'unlikely' at Airshow

Airbus A380 Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Qatar Airways is showing off one of its A380 super-jumbos at the Dubai Airshow, but maker Airbus needs more sales

Airbus has admitted that new orders at the Dubai Airshow for its A380, the world's biggest aircraft, are unlikely.

Fabrice Bregier, chief executive of the planemaking arm of Airbus Group, said the company was in advanced talks with several possible customers.

But although the European firm was on target to sell more A380s this year, talks could slip into 2016, he said.

"If [talks] slip into next year, this is not a drama. I think we will have some new customers," Mr Bregier said.

The Gulf's three big carriers are key customers for the A380, whose future has been questioned due to poor sales.

Airbus has not had a new sale of its super-jumbo aircraft, whose wings are made in the UK, for two years.

The company had faced persistent speculation that the double-decker plane would be discontinued, although Airbus denies categorically that this is being considered.

The biennial Dubai Airshow has traditionally been an event for Airbus to announce big sales. But following record orders in 2013 this week's show was now expected to be much quieter.

'Too early'

Airbus has been under pressure from the A380's largest customer, Emirates, to upgrade the aircraft, to make it more efficient and possibly even stretch it to add extra seats.

But with the airline yet to commit to a new version, Airbus is in no hurry to sign off on the €2bn-plus development costs.

Asked whether Airbus planned to lengthen the jet in order to increase its 540-seat capacity, Mr Bregier said: "It is too early to say. We can stretch this aircraft; the problem is to see whether we would have a sensible market for that." It may happen "one day", he said.

Earlier at the airshow, Emirates' president Tim Clark said he would like Airbus to get "on with it", a reference to developing a more fuel-efficient A380, called the A380neo. He said this could be done without necessarily stretching the A380.

Emirates has 140 A380s in operation or on order, but has said it could buy up to 200 more if a re-engineered model was developed.

The airline will move within the next decade to a huge new airport in Dubai capable of handling 160 million passengers annually. Emirates says the airline could double in size after the move.

The current Dubai International Airport is running at near-full capacity of 70 million passengers a year. "Yes we have issues of capacity… But for us to have ordered another 100 A380s - believe me if we could at Dubai International, we would."

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