Dubai: Airbus will have to buy back or find new homes for some of the older A380s currently operated by Dubai's Emirates as it finalises a deal to sell new superjumbos to the Gulf carrier, industry sources said on Sunday.
The European planemaker is expected to announce an order for some 36-38 A380 superjumbos at the opening of the Dubai Airshow later on Sunday.
"A few trade-ins will be involved," a person familiar with the matter said. An Airbus spokesman said, "We do not comment on our contractual agreements".
Asked at a news conference on the launch of a new first-class cabin whether Emirates would place an A380 order at the show, Emirates president Tim Clark said, "maybe, maybe not".
The decision by Airbus to buy back aircraft to facilitate the anticipated deal comes as the aviation market struggles to absorb some of the first A380s, which entered service a decade ago.
A German asset manager is trying to place four aircraft being returned by Singapore Airlines, which was the first to offer superjumbo services in 2007, financiers say.
Industry sources say at least one of the ex-Singapore jets will be operated by Portugal-based HiFly. The company, which rents out aircraft on a 'wet lease' basis complete with crew, was not immediately available for comment.
Placing the rest of the aircraft is no easy task as demand for the double-decker aircraft remains thin, aircraft financiers say.
Airbus is seen as keen to support the second-hand market to avoid having to break up one of the planes, a potential public relations setback as it tries to breathe new life into the iconic European programme following recent production cuts. Securing the new order from Emirates, which is by far the largest customer for the A380, clears a major hurdle to extending production towards the middle of next decade.