If Airbus does decide to end production of the Airbus A380, then the secondary market for the European manufacturer's flagship jet will likely favour the first sellers.

Reuters reported in late December that production of the A380 could be phased out if a new Emirates order failed to materialise.

In the event of such a decision, much attention would focus on the superjumbo's primary-market status. But the likely ramifications for the nascent A380 secondary market would also be critical, for owners.

German asset manager Dr Peters received the first A380 back from its initial operator when Singapore Airlines returned the jet last year. Another three will be handed back to Dr Peters by the Star Alliance carrier over the course of 2018.

Currently, the first ex-Singapore A380 is in storage at Tarbes airport in France while Dr Peters seeks a remarketing solution. In the interim, until a buyer is found, Rolls-Royce has been paying Dr Peters a fee for the use of the engines.

In November, Dr Peters chief Anselm Gehling told FlightGlobal that the company was in talks with a number of potential buyers, including British Airways. However, a concrete base of secondary-market customers for A380s has yet to emerge.

Much has been made of the potential for Hajj operators, as well as charter carriers like Portugal's Hi-Fly, to take on second-hand A380s. Yet it is doubtful that these will be able to take all the second-hand A380s in the world.

Other operators, such as British Airways and maybe some cargo carriers, may also look to take a number of older A380s. But, again, the nagging question is: will they take enough to create a viable secondary market?

It is a truism of aircraft remarketing that it's easier to sell a product a lot of airlines want to – and crucially, can – operate.

Some airlines are restricted in their ability to operate A380s by their home airport infrastructure, while for others the aircraft's capacity is not matched by demand on their routes, rendering it uneconomical.

The pool of airlines and operators looking to take on older A380s appears to be a shallow one.

Indeed, Amedeo's chief Mark Lapidus has floated the idea that it could essentially set up its own charter operations for its A380s when they are returned. It would then sell seats to a network of three or four airlines and to companies beyond aviation, Lapidus told CNBC in November 2017.

Lapidus cited "interest from gig-economy-style firms like Airbnb, Expedia and even Google", noting: "In the case of Airbnb, there is an obvious interest in not only where you are staying but also how you get there."

Aside from disruptive ideas like Amedeo's, part-out is a potential solution. However, even tearing down an A380 may not be so profitable.

One private valuation carried out last year estimated that the jet was worth only about $30 million if torn down.

Dr Peters' Gehling told FlightGlobal in November last year that Airbus needed to "commit to producing it for another 10 to 15 years at least, to ensure not only new orders but a secondary market for this aircraft", adding: "Many experts of the aviation industry think pressure needs to be put on them to do make this commitment soon."

Fundamentally, the second-hand market for the A380 will likely be small – and if production of the aircraft ceases, it may be smaller still.

Those first in line to sell the A380 may therefore be the best placed to successfully offload the asset while the opportunities are there.

Source: Cirium Dashboard