Qantas has canceled the final eight units of a 20 jet order of A380s from the European aerospace giant Airbus, signalling what could be the beginning of the end for the big airplane.

"These aircraft have not been part of the airline's fleet and network plans for some time," a spokesman said.  "Qantas remains committed to a major upgrade of its existing A380s, which begins in mid-calendar 2019 and will see us operate the aircraft well into the future."

The Aussie carrier cancelled the remainder of its original order just as Emirates began discussions with Airbus over switching some A380 orders to smaller models.  It means that Airbus will likely close production of the double-decker earlier than planned and could make a detailed announcement as early as its annual results on 14 February.