TEXT OF STORY
Stacey Vanek-Smith: European plane maker Airbus is struggling with delays on its much-anticipated jumbo jet, the A380. From London, Stephen Beard reports.
Stephen Beard: The A380 is a monster in every sense. The world’s largest passenger plane capable of carrying up to 850 people, it’s also been Airbus’s biggest ever headache.
Aviation analyst Howard Wheeldon:
Howard Wheeldon: They have continued to have severe production delays. One might say this aircraft is still being built virtually by hand.
The delays have been largely due to complex wiring. Two years after the jet was launched, there are only 23 of them in service. Orders have slowed to a trickle. Wheeldon reckons that at current levels of production, it’ll take Airbus 20 years to break even on the project.
Wheeldon: I think we should better see this aircraft as a great technical success but also as an absolute financial disaster in the short and medium term.
Airbus insists that its giant gamble will pay off. Air travel is still expected to grow fast, especially in densely-populated Asia. A big plane makes sense, it says. The A380 will have its day. But it could be a long time coming.
In London, this is Stephen Beard for Marketplace.
We’re here to help you navigate this changed world and economy.
Our mission at Marketplace is to raise the economic intelligence of the country. It’s a tough task, but it’s never been more important.
In the past year, we’ve seen record unemployment, stimulus bills, and reddit users influencing the stock market. Marketplace helps you understand it all, will fact-based, approachable, and unbiased reporting.
Generous support from listeners and readers is what powers our nonprofit news—and your donation today will help provide this essential service. For just $5/month, you can sustain independent journalism that keeps you and thousands of others informed.