Looks like another domino falling in the A380 cancellation story.
Eh, sort of. Joyce has publically said they didn’t intend on taking these birds for a while.
I would have expected this announcement to coincide with a Sunrise announcement, however. I suspect more is to come soon.
Given the disclosure by Airbus of discussions with Emirates regarding their A380 contract, I think the QF cancellation brings increasing clarity to the narrative. Both QF and Airbus, to present, seem to have been content to leave those 8 ordered aircraft on the books, although deferred indefinitely; QF has been quite open in its disclosure that it had no intent to actually take delivery of those 8 ordered frames. Consequently, I see this cancellation as being indicative of Airbus clearing out the questionable A380 orders remaining on the books (leaving just Amedeo and Air Accord at present) before terminating the project. The only real question in my mind is whether EK will even take all 33 of the orders which they had placed prior to the 2017 order for 20+16 which apparently still hasn't been finalized due to the engine performance dispute with RR.
If the 20+16 order doesn't come to fruition, it's unlikely to make financial or strategic sense for Airbus to try to string out production of the remaining 33 aircraft for EK since that won't bridge the program to a potential A380neo; the lack of additional interested parties to present makes the prospect of finding another white knight to rescue the program even more improbable.
IMO, given that it has been reported that Enders wants to leave with a decision on the A380 having been taken, I think it's clear that Airbus approached Emirates about ending the program early. Even if the 20+16 order were to ultimately be annulled, the existing backlog of 36 would be sufficient to take production through mid-2024 at the announced rate. There'd be no pressure to cancel the QF order until ~2022 and again, given both parties' heretofore apparent willingness to defer the order indefinitely, seemingly no other reason to cancel it now. I just don't see another logical explanation for the series of announcements over the past week.