Qantas chief executive Alan Joyce has joked that he would have to be "drunk" to order any additional Airbus A380s, and also indicated that the airline does not intend to take any of its remaining orders for the type.

The Australian carrier was one of the launch customers for the Airbus superjumbo and has 12 of the aircraft in service, all powered by Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines. A further eight are on order but deliveries have been deferred.

"We keep on pushing them out. I think our intention is not to take those aircraft," says Joyce.

When asked during a lecture at the Royal Aeronautical Society about potential orders for any of Airbus's A380 development studies, such as the A380plus, he said: "I think it would take a very drunken night for me to order that."

Joyce notes that the market has changed considerably since Qantas placed its original A380 order and advances in technology now allow smaller twinjets to fly most of the airline's missions much more economically.

"When we ordered the A380 in 1999, it was the only aircraft that had the mission capable of doing LA. Then the 777ER came along in 2004 that could do it, but we'd already committed to the A380," he says.

"The A380 works for us at a number of airports where there are schedule and slot constraints. At LA we have five aircraft departing at the same time because there are curfews back in Australia and it's the only time that works for connectivity from the east coast – the bigger the aircraft the better to get the volumes."

Joyce says that while there are certain markets where "you can fill an A380", there are others where the airline's 484-seaters are too large. A new-generation twinjet is lower risk, allows year-round frequencies on less-dense routes, and offers greater efficiency, he adds.

"We could fly two 787s [together] with two sets of pilots and two take-offs and landings, and it is cheaper to do that than an A380 flying the same route – the economics of the new technology are that much better."

Joyce adds that he sees the 777-8 and the A350 as eventual replacements for the A380. Qantas is evaluating the two twinjets for its ultra-long-haul mission requirement and expects to place an order in 2019. It aims to use the twinjet it selects to introduce nonstop flights between eastern Australia and London in 2022.

Source: Cirium Dashboard