Airbus is disappointed that A380 sales have been weak in China - but remains confident that the type will gain ground there.
Speaking to Flightglobal at the Paris air show, Airbus China president Eric Chen had harsh words for China Southern Airlines, the only Chinese A380 operator.
"I do not understand why others can make profit with the aircraft but not China Southern," says Chen. "What other airlines can do and achieve with the A380, I am fully convinced that China Southern will be able to do also. There are barriers, but they are there to be overcome."
Since the Chinese carrier took delivery of its first A380 in 2011, it has struggled to use it on long-haul flights out of Beijing due to regulatory resistance that prevents the country's three state-owned carriers from competing directly. Based in Guangzhou, China Southern has therefore had to use the aircraft mainly on short domestic routes. Its attempts to jointly operate the type with Air China also failed when they could not agree on the conditions.
"The A380 is designed for long-haul hub-to-hub operations. We believe that it has a large potential to make profit if it is properly operated," says Chen, adding that China Southern's poor use of the aircraft may have impacted sales of the type in the country.
However, the airframer is expecting more A320neo orders to come from China this year. Publicly, it has disclosed only its first customer, ICBC Leasing, which has ordered 20 A320neos.