How many A380s does Airbus need to sell before they can start making profit? When did/will it happen?
Will never happen. It was a bad business decision. Boeing was right when they said the market for them is SMALL and the future is with twin engine long range wide body jets.
Been There, Done That.
I don't think they will ever reach the "break even" point, as there is very little demand for those monsters.
Lots, and it will never happen. Airbus revolutionized the airliner industry by designing a twin engine wide body aircraft. Boeing recognized this and never again clean sheeted a design that had more than two engines. Airbus, which only turned its first profit in the early 90s, has never been constrained by needing to be profitable. It wanted a halo product to out do Boeing, so it made the A380 just as US carriers were dumping the 747 for smaller twins. It might have had a chance for success, but Boeing very wisely offered the 747-8, a plane that will split the ever shrinking jumbo market for very little risk to Boeing.
The number seems to change, it is likely to go up over time. At present, the production rate is less than 15 planes per year, and it is barely covering the production cost so not really paying back for the development investment. Airbus keeps it perhaps as a "loss leader", airlines interested in acquiring a complete mixed fleet of plane of varying size may opt to go with a sole supplier, and Airbus could be willing to lose a few millions on an A380 if it helps sell a couple dozen of A320 at the same time. But who knows what the future holds? At present, both a Boeing and Airbus, the backlog accounts for almost 10 year of production (all aircraft models combined). Where is the airline business going to be in 10 year? Some overly crowded routes could avoid saturation by replacing two smaller jetliners of the Boeing 767/A330 class with one superjumbo that has double the capacity (although Boeing was seemingly banking more on a 3 to 2 replacement). The fact remains that today's most popular airplane are bigger than the ones in service that they are replacing; Boeing's smallest 737MAX is the -7 with 138 seat and has only sold 61 (all 737MAX orders currently total over 5000). And the 737MAX7 is bigger that the 737-700 it replaces (128 seats in typical configuration) which was more popular, representing 16% of all 737NG; while the 737-600 (108 passengers) was the one that did not sell very well (69 orders) to the point there isn't even a 737MAX6. Airbus may have the right strategy keeping the program alive (some may claim on "life-support") as conditions could change eventually to make it much more popular.
The whole thing with the A380 is that it is a vanity project between several European governments. Airbus Industries is so heavily subsidised that any "profit" is mainly a product of smoke and mirrors.
More than the airlines are willing to order. It will never recoup the development cost. Airbus was forced to cut the A380 production yet again in 2018 to keep the assembly line open as long as possible while it is hoping that the orders will pick up. At the current low production rate of only eight per year, going down to six next year, Airbus is loosing money on every A380 it delivers. It suffered a humiliating embarrassment at the 2017 Dubai Air Show. The deadline is looming large to decide how long it is willing to sustain loses and at what point the accumulated loses will outweigh the theoretical profits it hopes to make on the program. For now, the profits the Airbus makes on the A320 and A330 are subsidizing the A380, but Tom Enders is retiring this year. The A380's chief cheerleader John Leahy is already gone. The new Airbus leadership may not be so willing to keep the money loosing program. Response to PhotonX Airbus was close to finalizing a big A380 order with Emirates. At the Dubai Air Show Emirates called a big press conference and invited representatives of Airbus and Boeing. They were told that Dubai Prime Minister and the Crown Prince will be in attendance. Boeing was also working on the Emirates order for 787s at the time. The Crown Prince and the Prime Minister arrived. Boeing's and Emirates' people took their seats at the podium, Emirates announced a Letter of Intent for 30 787s, they answered some questions and the press conference ended.without announcing the Airbus order leaving Tom Enders, John Leahy and other Airbus officials stunned and wondering what the hell just happened.
Will the Concorde ever make a profit? Just because you build it doesn't mean you will make a profit from the thing. The 380 required the airports it serves to make huge investments to even accommodate the thing! Not every airport would be willing to or even need to build those gates. So like those above, I doubt it will ever return a profit to Airbus. Time will tell and maybe airports or airlines will spend billions to allow it to serve them. (Without major routes and ability to reach destinations aircraft fail as do airlines.)