Just as the future of the Airbus A380 superjumbo seemed assured, following a massive order earlier this year by Emirates (worlds’ largest operator of the aircraft) – doubts have sprung up about whether the order will go through.

It’s no secret that travellers like the big A380, a plane seen as quiet and spacious – but few airlines are ordering it apart from Emirates. Then, early this year, Airbus received a single massive order from Emirates which assured that the A380’s production would continue. See: Single mega order saves everyone’s favourite plane

Now, according to a report by Bloomberg news agency, the big order for the A380 has reached a sticking point, bogged down in drawn-out talks involving the engines.

Emirates’ A380 fleet operates both Engine Alliance and Rolls-Royce engines, and the airline is evaluating engine options for its latest A380 order.

Bloomberg says vital discussions have hit a snag as Emirates negotiates with Rolls-Royce on price and fuel burn on an engine “that’s already falling short of performance parameters”.

The news agency quoted people in the know who preferred not to be named discussing confidential information.

According to Bloomberg, the companies have missed a deadline to select the engines, possibly delaying first delivery in 2020 – and even threatening the deal outright.

Emirates and Airbus signing the A380 deal earlier this year

Airbus needs the latest Emirates A380 deal if it wants to see production continue.

Emirates is by far the largest Airbus A380 operator in the world and its partnership with Airbus spans decades. (Emirates is also, by the way, the world’s largest operator of the Boeing B777.)

One of Emirates’ 380s. It currently runs 105 of them

The additional Airbus A380s are due to be delivered to Emirates from 2020 onwards.  Together with the airline’s 105-strong A380 fleet and its current order backlog, the  new order brings Emirates’ commitment to the A380 program to 178 aircraft, worth over USD 60 billion.

Written by Peter Needham