Regional airlines “disappointed” by super-jumbo delays

AIRBUS has confirmed that deliveries of its forthcoming A380 super-jumbo to the region’s top airlines will be delayed by six months. Airbus could now face compensation claims from the carriers.

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By  Rhys Jones Published  June 12, 2005

AIRBUS has confirmed that deliveries of its forthcoming A380 super-jumbo to the region’s top airlines will be delayed by six months. Airbus could now face compensation claims from the carriers. The announcement of the delays, which will affect Emirates, Qatar Airways and Etihad Airways — who have all ordered the A380 — comes five weeks after the plane’s maiden flight on 27 April. Emirates, which is the biggest customer for the A380, having made 45 orders for the plane worth US$19 billion is worried the delay will damage its expansion strategy. “We are concerned about the effect of the delay on Emirates’ growth plan, and will study the new timetable carefully to ascertain its impact in detail,” Mike Simon, senior vice president, Emirates Airline, told Arabian Business. “We will make every effort to prevent it from slowing down our aggressive growth plans,” he added. It is widely believed that the delays are linked to production problems at one of Airbus’ main parts plants in Germany. The plant in Hamburg failed to properly assemble some components, which has led to significant delays in the assembly of the aircraft at the company’s main factory in Toulouse, France. Production problems in Germany have also affected fast-growing Qatar Airways. The Doha-based airline expected to see the first of its two Airbus super-jumbos in just under three years but the delivery has since been put back by a year. “The original delivery date of Qatar Airways first A380 was scheduled for 2008 but delivery has now been delayed until 2009,” said Shuhub Shawkat, senior media relations officer, Qatar Airways. “But the revised delivery will coincide with the opening of the New Doha International Airport, which is scheduled to open in 2009,” she added. Airbus claims it underestimated the engineering complexities of the aircraft, but has so far refused to give a specific reason for the delay. As a result, the aircraft manufacturer could face a spate of compensation claims from disgruntled airlines. “If there was an inexcusable delay, then that is a matter for compensation,” said John Leahy, chief commercial officer, Airbus. Although frustrated with the revised delivery date with what will become the airline’s flagship plane, Emirates is unsurprised that there have been delays. In terms of compensation, the airline has said it expects Airbus to meet its obligations in accordance with the contract between the two companies. “The delay is disappointing, though hardly unprecedented in totally new aircraft launches,” said Emirates’ Simon. “In case of delays we would expect Airbus to honour our contracts but it is too early to start talking about compensation,” he added.

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