A year after "Airbus CE" won what looked like a rescue order for a two-seater A380, the future of the leading program is back on line.
Emirate's Gulf ships can turn some or all of their last 20 superhumbo orders into smaller A350, people who are familiar with the issue said.
A330neo, another wide body, is also in the mix, says one of the people.
Any switching would reduce the outstanding order on the largest passenger plane – which led the manufacturer to kill an airplane that had a limited interest in other airlines just 11 years after entering the commercial service.
Airbus will hold the superjumbo until other outstanding orders for the model, mostly from an earlier deal with Emirates, are met, according to people who have asked not to be called because the talks are private.
But the move will ultimately mean closing a production line that the manufacturer has struggled to keep waiting for revival of demand.
France-based Airbus in Toulouse appears to have secured the future of the A380 after agreeing to sell up to 36 aircrafts to the Emirates in January last year.
Since then, however, he has been trying to find a producer of engines that is ready to meet the carrier's prices and performance.
The General Electric and Pratt & Whitney Alliance showed little enthusiasm as Rolls-Royce's current supplier failed to negotiate terms after months of negotiations.
Price is also an issue for other carriers. Speaking at the event in London on Friday, Willie Walsh, CEO of British Airways' IAG SA, said he would consider buying more A380s, but only on better terms than Airbus offers.
In a statement after the markets ended Thursday, Airbus said it was in talks with Emirates in connection with the A380, which includes 16 options. Producer shares traded 1.5 percent more than 11:27 in Paris on Friday.
The Emirates, which are held closely, said the talks were continuing while London-based Rolls-Royce declined to comment. The shares of the turbine maker rose 1.8%.
International aviation analyst Jefferson Sandy Morris calls Airbus comments "boring but sinister," adding: "If a significant portion of the Emirates order is canceled, we think the A380 program should end."
Planned air travel from the Dubai International Airport with limited capacity to the new Dubai World Central center around 2024 may be stained by the thought of the need for the largest passenger plane, Morris said.
Airbus has already cut production of the A380 to eight aircraft this year, down to six years from 2020. Even this plan relies on securing the latest Emirates deal, which was won as a savings program when it was presented by the then boss of John Leahy's sales.
Removing the super-budget will put an end to the losses of each aircraft at the lower level of production and release the factories to increase the production of smaller models but could also expose Airbus to an outflow of EUR 1 billion ( $ 1.15 billion) of state funding that may have been paid, according to Morris.
At the end of 2018, the A380 had an unplanned accumulation of 87 aircraft, according to the analyst, of which only 53, ordered by the Emirates and three of the Japanese ANA, could be considered "healthy," he said. Some have been sitting on books for years.
LoggerheadsRolls and Emirates have been in conflict with the specificity of the engine agreement, with the A380 of the previous order being converted into a trading coin, as the Dubai-based airline initially refuses to take delivery of some aircraft.
The deal, which is now under review, was delayed amid a controversy over the contract with the engine, and Emirates said he had announced an airshaft in Dubai. The sale was resumed three months later after the two sides reached an agreement that left the final terms not to decide.
Even if other carriers lose interest in the A380, Emirates is reluctant to give up the headquarters of its strategy to use Dubai's location at a natural global junction to become the largest long-distance carrier in the world.
President Tim Clark is one of the most vocal supporters of the aircraft that the company has loaded with 615 passengers for trips around the world.
The move to the A350 will review the 2007 order that Emirates has canceled in 2014, saying it is not convinced that the plane meets its requirements.
The state airline has agreed to buy 50 A350-900 and 20 large -1000 for delivery this year worth 16 billion dollars.
The addition of a smaller airplane, which features composite wings and two engines, making it more economical than the four-turbine A380, will give Emirates three models.
In addition to operator number one for superjumbo, the carrier also has the largest Boeing Co. park. 777s and is a leading customer for the upgraded 777X.
The A330neo is a revised version of a smaller, older A350 plane. Airbus had problems with ordering the new version, and Rolls-Royce engine problems also delayed production.
The planner plans to offer a modified version of the plane to try to strangle the demand for a planned mid-range aircraft called 797 from Boeing.