A380FAIRBUS’ chief executive officer, Tom Enders, has admitted that the A380 freighter version is on the “backburner”.

Speaking at the delivery of Lufthansa’s first A380 in Hamburg (Germany), Enders said that it was important for the aircraft manufacturer not to overstretch itself when market conditions are only just improving.

With the whole A380 programme looking like it may turn into an expensive white elephant due to delays and unfortunately timed market conditions, parent company EADS’ chief executive officer Hans Peter Ring, admitted the five-year target to break even on the model, “is not to be understood as guidance, just as an extrapolation of current trends”.

Reading between the lines of management speak, Ring seems to be suggesting the model won’t be breaking even within five years.

That leaves Airbus in the unenviable position of knowing that the A380 – while a dream to fly on – is a drain on resources, but needing to promote it so as to try and recoup as much of the initial investment as possible.

However, Richard Aboulafia, vice-president analysis at the Teal Group, said: “The A380 is best regarded as a US$25 billion write-off and an act of industrial irresponsibility.”