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Tue 31 Oct 2006 08:00 PM

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Seeping wounds

The crisis facing European aircraft manufacturer Airbus, which continued to deepen this month, has caught the attention of the aviation industry once again.

Following the announcement about further delays to the A380 superjumbo, we’ve been inundated with various stories being circulated, both officially and through the grapevine, with additional details being delivered practically every day. As one industry expert told Aviation Business: “The PR machine should have released all the news together, instead of providing dribs and drabs of information on a daily basis.”

There have been widely publicised problems with the wiring of the A380, delaying deliveries by a further two years, followed by reports about restructuring on the A350. As a result, the media went into overdrive, with reports about Emirates and other aviation heavyweights reconsidering their options and possibly cancelling a number of multi-million dollar orders. Emirates’ president Tim Clark, in an interview with a news source, said that the A380 programme “really has to sort itself out”.

But some industry experts are doubtful that wiring problems are the real issue. One told Aviation Business that such problems are easily fixed. So, does that mean Airbus is hiding an even bigger problem? Some experts have suggested the crisis is political, as parent company EADS reshuffles “to correct the problems” that have delayed its A380 superjumbo.

Whatever the issues, the delay will undoubtedly slow the firm’s growth, with EADS share prices already falling sharply following the latest A380 delays. Indeed, the world’s economies are watching the fortunes of Airbus closely, because a lot is hanging on the A380. With airports around the world undergoing huge and costly expansion plans to accommodate the aircraft, a further delay would be disastrous, although not completely out of the question. For now, we’ll simply have to wait with baited breath for the next instalment in the ongoing Airbus saga.

Will the A380 ever get off the ground and be a commercial success?

Yes (65.0%)
No (25.0%)
Don’t know (10.0%)

Number of respondents: 570