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Thu, Jun 09, 2005

Airbus Paris Air Show Party On Hold

No A350 To Announce, No A380 To Show Off

It was supposed to be the mother of all parties at the Paris Air Show this month -- Airbus celebrating the launch of its A350 and the flight testing of its behemoth A380. But orders for champagne have been put on hold, as has any announcement on the launch of the A350. That won't happen until at least September.

So says EADS, the number-one shareholder in Airbus, with the concurrence of the UK's BAe Systems.

"We need to be absolutely sure of how to manage the A350, with all the other programs we are pursuing," said EADS spokesman Rainer Ohler. He was quoted by the New York Times.

In the meantime, there are apparent production problems with the super-jumbo A380 (above), which took its maiden flight in April. Those problems have forced delays of at least six months in the first A380 deliveries and some carriers are screaming they want compensation as a result.

Two other factors cast a shadow over Airbus' presence at the Paris Air Show, which starts on Monday: the ongoing boardroom tussle over who will lead Airbus, now that former CEO Noel Foergard has been kicked upstairs to help lead EADS and the ongoing trade dispute between Airbus and arch-rival Boeing.

The delay in launch financing for the A350 (above) dampens Airbus plans to announce it has more than 100 pending orders for the 787 rival. There are also continuing questions about the plane's viability as a model unto itself, rather than a rehash of an earlier Airbus design.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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