Prospects for the Airbus A380 remain uncertain after the airframer's finance chief hinted at an outside possibility of halting the programme as an alternative to upgrading the aircraft.

Chief financial officer Harald Wilhelm made the remark as he detailed the earnings expectations for the airframer’s commercial programmes, during an investor forum in London.

He said the A320 and A330 programmes would be “rather stable” in 2015.

But he expects a volume and price pressure impact from the A330 in 2016, before ramp-up of the re-engined A320neo and A330neo programmes drive a recovery from 2017 onwards.

The A380 will break even at production level next year, Wilhelm said, and the efforts of reducing fixed and recurring costs will mean it will stay at break-even in 2016-17.

But he predicted that A380 earnings would stay “flat” in 2018, “close to the break-even with the current product”, adding: “If we would do something on the product, or even if we would discontinue the product, that’s what it means.”

Wilhelm did not elaborate on the remarks, although his financial projections showed the A380's contribution towards earnings at odds with those from the A320neo, A330neo and A350 programmes.

Airbus Group chief Tom Enders had already said, during the forum, that it would need to make a decision, at some point, on upgrading the A380 – pointing out that the design was effectively 15 years old.

While more than 300 have been ordered, sales of the type have been uneven, with around half of the orders booked by Emirates, the carrier pushing hardest for modernisation of the aircraft.

Source: Cirium Dashboard