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Tue 10 Oct 2006 04:00 AM

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Airbus A380 subject to further delays

Airbus has announced a further delay for its A380 superjumbo, following continued setbacks in the aircraft’s wiring.

Airbus has announced a further delay for its A380 superjumbo, following continued setbacks in the aircraft’s wiring.

Although European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company (EADS), which owns 80% of Airbus, has confirmed the latest delay, the revised timeframe for the aircraft is still unknown.

“The company’s assessment is still under way. Continuing challenges with the wiring of production aircraft have been identified and are being tackled. There will be further delays,” Airbus said in a statement.

“We have not finalised the schedule of deliveries, nor the financial impact of any delays. All appropriate resources are focused on bringing the ongoing assessment to maturity. Airbus is currently working on developing action plans and a solid delivery schedule to its customers,” the company added.

Flight-testing for the A380 is progressing as planned, despite the wiring problems, which were first announced in June 2006.The news has created considerable buzz in the Middle East aviation industry, with rumours of forthcoming cancellations, which could cost Airbus billions.

However, for now, it seems industry players and waiting for updates before making their final decisions.

“Emirates awaits clarification from Airbus as to when the rescheduled delivery dates are going to be, and has taken no position with regard to cancellation, compensation and damages,” said Tim Clark, president of Emirates Airline.

“Emirates is concerned primarily with establishing exactly when the aircraft will be delivered into the company in order that it can continue its planned expansion. There is no point in any further speculation.”

Etihad Airways, a longtime supporter of Airbus, is supporting the company through these latest delays. “We remain fully committed to our order and will work with Airbus to ensure that our stringent requirements are met,” said Ian Ferguson-Brown, Etihad’s head of communications.

“The A380 represents a wonderful opportunity to give many innovative benefits to Etihad guests and we are very keen to start flying as soon as possible.”

Qatar Airways has ordered four A380-800s, two on firm order and two on option. Updesh Kapoor, senior media relations officer, said the airline is scheduled to take delivery of its first A380 in 2009 to coincide with the opening of the New Doha International Airport (NDIA), which has been designed to accommodate the aircraft.

“At this time, we have not received official notification of any delays,” he said.

The delay could have implications on Airbus’ market share, warned Scott Babka, analyst at Morgan Stanley.

“The real risk is that A380 delays could affect the company’s overall competitiveness, across the rest of its portfolio,” said Babka. “To regain investor and customer confidence, Airbus needs to clearly articulate a credible recovery plan.”

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