As the A380’s sales become more difficult, new purchases are becoming more complex. Rather than the ordering of aircraft for a clear commercial recipe, or adding the usual ingredient of politics, A380 sales are becoming a fusion.
Airbus sold A380s to All Nippon Airways, but only in exchange for backing ANA’s partnership of the bankrupt A380 customer Skymark. A failed bid to sell the A350 to Emirates hinged on commitment to keep the A380 line open.
Now, according to press reports, Airbus plans to sell the A380 to China in exchange for giving China greater industrial participation on the A380. China already has an A320 final assembly line and A330 (and soon 737) completion centres, so it is unclear what further insights China gains, unless A380 involvement is on the way to China becoming another Japan (which builds an astounding one fifth of a 777), or US/France (building widebodies).
It is this political factor that is key: on their own, Chinese airlines would not order A380s. It is a complex scenario, all the more complicated by Airbus’ management changes.