Airbus A380 take-off delayed

Production troubles will delay the Airbus A380 superjumbo by two years, putting a board meeting at parent EADS under fresh pressure to map out how it will get the $15 billion programme back on track.

    Emirates has described the delay as very serious

    Emirates, the biggest buyer of the A380 with 43 on order worth $13 billion at list prices, called the programme's latest delay "very serious" and warned it was reviewing how to respond.
    Tim Clark, Emirates' president, said: "Our first aircraft will now arrive in August 2008. This is a very serious issue for Emirates and the company is now reviewing all its options."

    Emirates said its aeroplanes would come 10 months late, while Germany's Lufthansa said it now expected a fresh delay of a year.
    Air France said it would receive its first A380 only by spring 2009. A spokeswoman said the original delivery target of spring 2007 had already been postponed by a year.
    Virgin Atlantic also confirmed a delay in deliveries.

    Uncertain deliveries
    One newspaper report said Airbus could slow 2007 deliveries to just two aircraft, down from a target of as many as 25 that was chopped to nine in June. Analysts have said Airbus needs to deliver about 300 of the planes to break even.
    Christian Streiff, hired as Airbus chief executive in July to sort out the company's woes, has pledged to put an end to the company's fitful performance on delivery of the A380 and launch of the mid-sized A350.
    He presented the EADS board on Friday with a proposal to revamp how and where Airbus builds planes, which top shareholders DaimlerChrysler and Lagardere balked at, according to France's Les Echos newspaper.
    It said Streiff threatened to quit if his reforms were not adopted.
    The EADS board, which is expected to meet by videoconference on Tuesday, has lined up a meeting on Wednesday with the company's works council and managers.
    Airbus faces rising compensation claims from airlines which will have to lease other planes until Airbus sorts out the wiring troubles holding back the A380.
    Australian airline Qantas in August recognised $80 million in damages to be paid by Airbus.

    Balancing act
    In Toulouse, industry reports said EADS might look to trim production costs by consolidating A380 work in the southwest French city where Airbus is headquartered.
    It would centre work on the smaller, popular A320 series at its factory in Hamburg, Germany.
    Formed through a merger of major aerospace players in Germany, France and Spain in 2000, EADS faces a delicate balancing act in how it divides its managerial power, jobs and technology - something that could mean EADS finds it harder to reform than Boeing, its US rival did.

    The A380 was designed as a flagship product for Airbus, a symbol of its supremacy over Boeing and its ageing 747 jumbo.
    Analysts now say the project poses an increasing risk to Airbus as it ties up money and engineering resources which the planemaker needs to use to build its next plane, the A350.

    SOURCE: Reuters


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