Airbus has confirmed it is holding talks with key A380 customer Emirates in relation to its contract for the type, amid reports it is in discussions over the Gulf carrier switching some of its orders for the type to the smaller A350.

Emirates, the largest operator of the ultra-large aircraft, firmed a follow-on order for 20 of the type in February 2018. This covers the first part of a fresh commitment for 36 A380s, tentatively struck in January of that year. The commitment was crucial to the continued production of the A380.

Newswire reports citing people familiar with the matter say talks are being held to explore Emirates switching some of these orders to the A350.

"Airbus confirms it is in discussions with Emirates Airline in relation to its A380 contract," the manufacturer says in short stock exchange statement. No details of the content under discussion is disclosed. "Commercial discussions with customers remain confidential," Airbus says.

Flight Fleets Analyzer shows Emirates operates 109 A380s and has a further 53 on order and options on 16 more of the type. Emirates previously ordered 70 A350s in 2007, before cancelling the commitment in 2014. The UAE airline subsequently committed to 40 of the rival Boeing 787-10 at the 2017 Dubai air show, although it is still to firm this deal up.

Earlier this month Airbus removed orders for 10 A380s, which had previously been allocated to an undisclosed customer.

Airbus is to cut the production of A380s to just eight aircraft this year.

Source: Cirium Dashboard