Amid all the carnage at Airbus over the extra delays to the A380 there is another potentially serious fallout that cannot be overlooked: will A380 deliveries start just as the industry heads into its next downturn?
The original plan saw A380s being delivered this year and next. Such timing would not have coincided with the peaks of 2004 and 2005 as traffic growth rates soared, but A380s would have been soaking up today's decent volumes.
Now, Airbus has told its customers that the first A380 will be delivered in October 2007, with 13 being delivered in 2008 and 25 in 2009. Full production will be achieved in 2010 when 45 of the super jumbos will be delivered.
But will the market require all of that extra capacity at this time? As Airline Business has been warning, the industry could be on the cusp of a downturn. Yes, the normal economic cycle could be elongated, but there is little doubt that the industry is slowing.
A stretched cycle could see the bottom being reached in 2010/11. A more traditional cycle means the industry hitting the bottom in 2008/9. Whatever the future holds, the danger is that A380s will be delivered slap bang into an industry trough.