(Bloomberg) -- Airbus SE is closing in on a decision to end production of the A380 double-decker after a dozen years in service, according to people familiar with the matter, with lead customer Emirates poised to more than halve its current order for 53 of the planes.
Negotiations with the Gulf carrier were ongoing late Wednesday ahead of Airbus’s earnings on Thursday morning, when an announcement to cancel the program could come, the people said, asking not to be be identified.
Airbus’s board was meeting on Wednesday and would need to formally approve any decision to close the program, the people said. The planemaker would then still need to wrap up negotiations with Emirates on the final number of aircraft it will cut. The talks were in flux and a final decision could still be delayed to a later date, they said.
Emirates now plans to take fewer than 20 A380s, a deeper cut than originally planned, one of the people said. It plans to replace them with smaller wide-bodies from Airbus and rival Boeing Co., with the final number determining how long production will continue. Output would cease by 2021 or 2022, one of the people said.
Airbus declined to comment, as did Emirates. Bloomberg News reported this month that Emirates, the world’s largest long-haul carrier, was considering swapping some A380s and potential Boeing 787 Dreamliner orders for a combination of A330, A350 and Boeing 777X widebodies.
In addition to canceling its order for 20 planes with 16 options from February 2018, the new deal will also see Emirates shave about 15 of the jets from a previous order placed in 2013, the people said.
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