Airbus superjumbo jet now nearly two years late

2nd October 2006, Comments 0 comments

PARIS, Oct 3, 2006 (AFP) - Deliveries of the Airbus A380 superjumbo passenger plane are set to be nearly two years behind their original schedule, the leading buyer of the jet, the Dubai-based airline Emirates, revealed Tuesday.

PARIS, Oct 3, 2006 (AFP) - Deliveries of the Airbus A380 superjumbo passenger plane are set to be nearly two years behind their original schedule, the leading buyer of the jet, the Dubai-based airline Emirates, revealed Tuesday.

Emirates said it had been informed of a further 10-month delay to deliveries of the A380, which is to be added to the previously announced delay of about 12 months.

"Emirates has been advised by Airbus of a further 10 months delay to its A380 programme, which means that our first aircraft will now arrive in August 2008," said the president of Emirates, Tim Clark, in a statement received here.

"This is a very serious issue for Emirates and the company is now reviewing all its options."

Virgin Atlantic also confirmed that it had been contacted by Airbus about new delays to the A380, adding that it expected Airbus to confirm a new delivery schedule later Tuesday or on Wednesday.

The announcement by Emirates is a further blow for Airbus and a major embarrassment following criticism of the company about its failure to clearly communicate past problems with the A380 program.

Airbus had declined to specify the scale of the new delays but had admitted last month that a further slip in the delivery schedule was likely.

The Emirates statement also overshadowed a board meeting of Airbus parent company EADS on Tuesday, during which production problems at Airbus were to be discussed.

The meeting was also to see Airbus chief executive Christian Streiff attempt to win support for his restructuring plan for the group, which has faced opposition from some EADS directors, sources have said.

The revelation that Emirates is "reviewing all its options" regarding its order for 43 A380s is also likely to worry Airbus and its parent, the European Aeronautic Defence and Space company.

The airline has said in the past that delays to deliveries of the A380 have set back its expansion plans.

Nevertheless, analysts have said clients are unlikely to cancel orders for the A380, given the perceived strategic advantages of the plane, which can transport between 555-840 passengers on distances of up to 15,000 kilometres.

Airbus could face costly compensation claims however and suffer damage to its reputation, with knock-on effects in its battle for other airline orders with arch-rival Boeing of the United States.

A spokesman for the launch client of the A380, Singapore Airlines, told AFP before the announcement by Emirates that delays to the A380 had caused problems for the carrier.

It has had to extend leases on some of its planes and it has been unable to expand capacity on its London-Singapore route as it had hoped.

Referring to the London-Singapore route, SIA spokesman Stephen Forshaw said: "We're talking about the inability to grow that capacity by an extra 100 seats" on each aircraft.

"That's incremental growth that we miss out on."

Analysts will now wait for Airbus to confirm the delays and detail the financial impact of the latest problems, which stem from difficulties with wiring in the cabins of the A380.

The first announcement of delays by Airbus dates back to June 2005 when the group informed its clients that deliveries were between two to six months behind schedule because of demands for modifications to the cabins.

The second delay was announced on June 13 this year, when Airbus said that difficulties with cabling would set back deliveries by a further six to seven months.

The announcement of production problems in June sparked crisis at Airbus and EADS, forcing management changes and damaging the standing of EADS in financial markets.

EADS owns 80 percent of Airbus, with the remainder held by British defence group BAE Systems.

Shares in EADS were 0.66 percent lower on the Paris stock exchange at EUR 22.50.

Copyright AFP

Subject: French news

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