Delay of up to six months in A380 delivery

PARIS: The Airbus A380 may have overcome its weight problem, but the full cost of beating the bulge looked set to mount as the European aircraft maker confirmed delivery delays of up to six months. 

“We’ve now spoken to A380 customers and told them how they will be affected,” Airbus spokesman David Velupillai said. “The delays range from two to six months depending on the customer.” 

Airbus had warned launch customer Singapore Airlines Ltd in April that it would receive its jets late next year instead of March. SIA chief executive officer Chew Choon Seng has since said he plans to demand compensation. 

SIA said in Singapore yesterday that it would hold talks with Airbus over the delay in the delivery. “We will have discussions with Airbus on the terms of the contract, but those discussions have not been had yet, and will be between ourselves and Airbus as the parties to the contract,” the airline said in a statement. 

Airbus added that the delay could affect other A380 customers, after Air France-KLM Group, Emirates and Australia’s Qantas Airways Ltd said they, too, were expecting their superjumbos late. 

Qantas said its 12 new A380s would arrive six months late and confirmed it would be seeking financial redress. 

“This is disappointing, given that we have met all of Airbus’ deadlines for Qantas specifications,” said the carrier's chief executive Geoff Dixon. 

Emirates said it did not yet know how late its A380s would arrive but hinted it would be seeking compensation. 

Airbus spokesman Velupillai said that in any aircraft programme “deliveries begin slowly in the early years and pick up pace later on, so the effects will be limited.” 

He also refused to say how many of the A380’s 15 existing customers were affected by the delays. 

But Deutsche Lufthansa AG, which had not been expecting its first A380s until late 2007, said it too had been warned that they may arrive later. 

Air France also has postponed its planned April 2007 launch of A380 services. “Airbus has advised us that there will be a delivery delay,” said a Paris-based spokesman for Air France-KLM. He declined to discuss compensation. – Agencies 

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