Announcement expected on future of A380s this week - report

Airbus is reportedly nearing a decision to axe production of the world's largest airliner, with speculation an announcement could come as soon as Friday (NZ time) when the manufacturer announces its full-year earnings.

The fate of the A380 superjumbo has been in doubt since a vital order from Emirates fell through, forcing Airbus and the airline to look into an alternative plan that would trigger a premature end to A380 production.

The new deal would see Emirates switch part of its order to smaller models like the A350 or A330, while eking out a few last-minute A380 orders from British Airways.

The timing of any final announcement may be driven by the outcome of those negotiations, but Airbus will be under pressure to provide some clarity to the market when it reports its results later this week.

Agency Partners aviation analyst Sash Tusa, predicted last week that a decision to shut the loss-making program may be imminent.

"The A380 is the elephant in the hangar; it will be impossible to avoid saying something on the subject," he said. 

The A380 is already on life support due to weak sales, and without any major new orders, the model's French and German factories are unlikely to survive beyond 2020.

Any decision to pull the plug on the iconic European double-decker after just 12 years in service must be approved by the Airbus board, which meets on Wednesday (NZ time).

Airbus declined to comment ahead of its earnings announcment.