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Fresh setback fears for A380.

Byline: By DAVID JONES Business Correspondent

SHOCK claims from France suggest that Airbus is poised to announce yet another delay to deliveries of its flagship A380 superjumbo.

If confirmed, the setback will dismay leading airlines that have ordered the jet.

A new hold-up in completing A380s may also impact on wing production at Airbus' plant at Broughton in north east Wales.

Workers have already throttled back on production of wings for the giant jet until wiring problems encountered on the final assembly line at Toulouse are sorted. Bosses have said they can ramp up wing production once the backlog of work in France is cleared.

Reports in the French media say Airbus could an - nounce a further delay of at least six months to clients such as Air France.

Some A380 customers will receive planes 18 months after the delivery date, according to reports, which also said assembly problems at Toulouse would prevent Airbus from honouring its pledge this year to deliver at least nine A380s in 2007, with a figure of four more likely. Two previous delays mean that deliveries are already running a year behind the original schedule.

The board of Airbus parent company EADS meets next week but Airbus is refusing to comment on the Airbus delivery schedule pending an ongoing internal audit of A380 production.

A spokeswoman said: "We have been undertaking a full review of the A380 programme since the summer. It is not finished yet. We will communicate after the EADS board meeting on September 29."

There was some better news for Airbus from Moscow yesterday as Russian flag carrier Aeroflot edged closer to an order for 22 of the company's new A350 XWB aircraft as part of an order for 44 long-range airliners.

Aeroflot chief executive Valery Okulov said: "We are talking about is buying both Boeing and Airbus. From 2010-2012, 22 Boeings, and from 2012-2016, 22 Airbuses."

Mr Okulov said Aeroflot had closed tender talks with Boeing to buy Boeing 787 Dreamliners, while negotiations the A350 XWB aircraft were yet to be finalised.
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Title Annotation:Business
Publication:Daily Post (Liverpool, England)
Date:Sep 21, 2006
Words:341
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