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Wednesday, 30 April 2008

Mixed news for Airbus

It might just be reading a little too much into a statement by Thomas Enders, the Chief Executive Office of Airbus, but there could be troubles ahead again for the company’s superjumbo, the A380

On Tuesday Enders said Airbus was conducting a major review of its delivery schedule for the A380 and admitted that the goal of four per month by 2010 wouldn’t be an easy one.

It should have been a great day for the company. First up, Enders was speaking at the opening its logistics centre in Dubai, close to the headquarters of its largest customer, Emirates.

And there was an order from Tunisia, where the French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, wrapped up a deal for 16 of the company’s smaller ‘planes.

"We are conducting a review right now and it might well be that we achieve that,” Enders said.

But his words, while erring perhaps on the cautious side, will have cast further doubts on the ability of Airbus to keep its deadlines, even though the company remains confident that it will meet its targets.

These include 13 more deliveries this year and 25 in 2009.

Even though Airbus has now delivered the first four of six ‘planes ordered by Singapore Airlines, the company has been hit with penalties for late delivery

The A380 has been beset with design and construction problems from the outset and there have been persistent delays.

The main problem now is that assembling the superjumbo has required a total rethink for the company, and the current doubts are based on how the changeover from individual production to full industrialisation will have a knock-on effect on delivery, and whether Airbus can keep to its revised schedule.

The giant of the skies made its first commercial passenger flight with Singapore Airlines in October last year and when at maximum capacity can carry over 850 people.

While it might be normal to carry out a major review of operations, as Airbus insists, the implication is that it has not ruled out changing its delivery timetable – again.

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