Airbus axes production of double-decker A380

Airbus has announced it will scrap production of the A380 superjumbo, abandoning its dream of dominating the skies after years of lacklustre sales.

The A380 is the world's largest airliner, known for its two level configuration with room for up to 850 passengers.

It was originally designed to challenge Boeing's legendary 747, but failed to take hold as airlines preferred a new generation of smaller, more versatile jets.

The future of the massive aircraft rested with its biggest customer, Emirates, which has also now chosen to invest in smaller, more efficient aircraft such as A330s and A350s.

"We have no substantial A380 backlog and hence, no basis to sustain production, despite all our sales efforts with other airlines in recent years. This leads to the end of A380 deliveries in 2021," said Airbus CEO Tom Enders.

A380 stats:

Size: 73m long, 24m high, 79m wide

Weight: 589 tonnes

Range: 15,000 km

Passengers: Up to 853 

Cost of an A380: NZ$650 million

First flight: April 27, 2005

First commercial flight: October 25, 2007

First airline to fly the A380: Singapore Airlines

With over 100 A380s in in its fleet, the aircraft will remain a key part of the Emirates brand well into the 2030s.

After the A380 made its debut flight in 2005, within a decade its future was in doubt due to the development of lighter, twin engine aircraft such as the Boeing 787 Dreamliner and the Airbus A350.

Enders conceded it just wasn't the right time for such an aircraft.

"There has been speculation that we were 10 years too early; I think it is clear that we were 10 years too late," he said.

Airbus will produce 17 more of the planes, including 14 for Emirates and three for Japanese airline ANA.

The last ever A380 will be delivered in 2021.