Still Grounded: Airbus Expecting Further Delays In A380 Jet Deliveries

Production delays have customers waiting up to two years for new planes.

PARIS (AP) — Airbus, beleaguered by production delays, is expected to announce a further six-month delay to its 555-seater A380 jet, according to the French financial daily Les Echos on Wednesday.

This new production interruption is the result of problems at the A380 assembly plant at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, southern France, said the newspaper, which did not cite sources.

The flagship superjumbo program has already been delayed by about 12 months, after Airbus announced a first six-month delay early in 2005, followed by a second in June of this year.

Due to the current problems, Airbus will not be able to meet its reduced target of nine deliveries in 2007.

It also means that Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. will have to wait two years longer than originally planned, until early 2008, for its first delivery of an A380. 

A Qantas spokesman said the airline had no immediate comment on the report, and would not comment on the delivery schedule pending the results of an ongoing internal audit ordered by new Chief Executive Christian Streiff.

Airbus will publish the findings at the end of September, as previously announced, said spokesman Justin Dubon.

Air France-KLM had said earlier Wednesday it had received a revised A380 delivery schedule from Airbus, but a spokeswoman later clarified that no new information had been received since June, when Airbus announced the second production delay. Virgin Atlantic Airways Ltd., Lufthansa AG and Dubai-based Emirates also said they had not received any new schedule.

In June, Airbus said they would still be able to deliver the first A380, by the end of 2006, to launch customer Singapore Airlines Ltd. But on Wednesday, Airbus suggested that there could still be problems with meeting that delivery date.

''Singapore Airlines is working with Airbus towards delivery of the first A380 in December, but Airbus can only confirm the date after they have completed their technical review at the end of September,'' said airline spokesman Stephen Forshaw.

The June delay announcement hit shares in European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. (EADS), which owns 80 percent of Airbus, and triggered a management crisis that led to the ouster of top executives from both companies.

EADS shares were down 0.4 percent at $28.64 in Paris on Wednesday.


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