Aerospace giant Airbus has sold just two of its flagship A380 superjumbos so far this year, its latest sales figures show.
Airbus, whose major base at Filton is supplying parts for the giant airliner, had hoped to sell at least 10 A380s this year to take its total sales of the double-decker aircraft above 200.
But the global recession and the resulting slump in air passenger numbers have had a devastating impact on aircraft sales as hard-pressed airlines scale back or cancel orders.
The only airline so far this year to buy the A380 is Korean Air which struck a deal for two in February.
Airbus’s Filton plant designed the wings, fuel system and landing gear for the aircraft, regarded as the most important plane to be associated with Bristol since Concorde in terms of its impact on the city’s aerospace industry. Thousands of jobs in Airbus and supplier companies are dependent on the success of the 555-seater aircraft.
However, Airbus remains convinced that there is a huge market for the A380, particularly in the Middle East and Far East, where air travel continues to expand.
The slump in aircraft orders is not just hitting the A380. Total orders booked by Airbus and its US-owned arch-rival Boeing during the first nine months of this year are just 203. At the same stage last year the two firms, the only two major planemakers left in the market, had received 1,360 orders.
So far Airbus is winning the sales war with Boeing, having landed 123 firm orders so far this year against Boeing’s 80 – mainly because the US giant’s customers have cancelled orders for 101 aircraft. Airbus has suffered 69 cancellations.
Most orders are for single-aisle, short-haul aircraft. Many of Boeing’s cancelled orders were for its yet-to-fly long-range 230-seat 787 Dreamliner.
Last month, Bristol24-7 revealed that Airbus is targeting Asian budget airlines with a version of the A380 that seats 800-plus passengers — nearly twice as many as on a Boeing 747 jumbo jet
It has already sold an A380 to Air Austral, which will redesign the cabin into a high-density 840-seat configuration for long-haul charter flights between Europe and Reunion in the Indian Ocean.