The future of the iconic Airbus A380 is again in doubt after Dubai-based Emirates, the largest customer for the double-decker aircraft, said it was looking into pulling future orders of the A380.
An exclusive report from Reuters has revealed Emirates is looking to switch its orders to the smaller A350 aircraft.
Emirates has previously spent tens of billions of dollars purchasing more than 100 A380s, and its order last year for up to 36 aircraft worth as much as US$16 billion a year ago, threw a lifeline to the programme's roughly 3000 workers and secured its future for at least another decade.
But, the end of the superjumbo era could come sooner than expected. Airbus is looking into closing A380 factories much earlier than expected.
A person familiar with the matter told Reuters Airbus was looking "extremely seriously" at setting the timetable for a shutdown but said no decision had been taken.
Airbus said in a statement that it "confirms it is in discussions with Emirates airline in relation to its A380 contract". But it said details of negotiations were confidential.
Emirates declined to comment.
The A380 has played a major role in Emirates marketing. It's luxury features such as bars and on-board showers frequently feature in the airline's advertising.
The rising cost of fuel and the increased efficiency of twin engined jets like the A350 and Boeing's 777 has seen sales of four-engined planes tumble.
Emirates remains by far the largest of an ever shortening list of airlines interested in purchasing the giant aircraft, and if it too loses interest, the A380 era will soon come to an end.
One industry source told Reuters the A380's future production is "untenable."