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Airbus Delays A380 Deliveries

Carriers Are Screaming

The Airbus A380 is going to be late... about six months late. That's the word from the factory and it sent some of the airlines which have already ordered the behemoth passenger jet into angry fits. Some of them want compensation for the delay.

Airbus said it needs more time to complete modifications on the aircraft's original design.

"The A380 delay is serious," said Richard Aboulafia, vice president of the Teal Group, an aerospace consulting firm in Fairfax, VA. He told the New York Times, "It might suggest a problem with the weight of the plane, and therefore with the economics. Lateness itself isn't a problem; performance is."

Airbus wasn't specific about the modifications needed on the A380, but did say the aircraft is aerodynamically sound. "There has hardly been any new airliner in history that was delivered on the date that was set when it was launched," said spokeswoman Barbara Kracht, also quoted by the Times.

Already, some carriers are lining up for rebates because of the delays. "This is disappointing, given that we have met all of Airbus' deadlines for Qantas specifications," said the Australian airline's CEO, Geoff Dixon in an interview with the Times. His airline would, he promised, seek "compensation from Airbus in line with the terms of its contract."

Singapore Airlines, slated to be the first carrier to take delivery on the super jumbo, had expected its A380 in the second quarter of next year. Now, it appears, that delivery won't be made until the fourth quarter of 2006.

One issue: Airbus is configuring the A380 differently for different customers. That, said Aboulafia, is probably also a factor in the delay.

FMI: www.airbus.com

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