UPS Remains Undecided on Fate of its Airbus A380 Order

PARIS_Parcel delivery company UPS, the last remaining customer for the cargo version of the Airbus A380, said Friday it hadn't decided whether to cancel its order for the superjumbos.

French business daily Les Echos, citing unidentified sources, reported Friday that United Parcel Service Inc. would cancel its order for 10 A380s next week. Such a move has long been rumored, and would mark the latest defection from the long-delayed superjumbo.

"We continue to talk to Airbus. We haven't changed our order and we haven't made a decision one way or the other, so the order still stands," said Lynnette McIntire, a spokeswoman for UPS in Atlanta.

Another UPS spokesman, Mark Giuffre, said the company was in discussions as recently as Thursday about the Airbus order.

He said the report in Les Echos was "making some supposition without the appropriate support for that" and that no announcement is expected next week.

Airbus spokeswoman Barbara Kracht said Friday that she had no information about a possible cancellation.

A cancellation would leave Airbus with no more customers for the cargo version of the A380, after FedEx and International Lease Finance Corp. canceled their orders last year amid repeated delays to the plane's construction schedule.

UPS is currently scheduled to receive its first plane in the second half of 2009.

Kracht insisted Friday that the cargo version was "a very good airplane and the market is good."

A spokesman for Airbus parent company EADS said it is sticking to its A380 cargo aircraft program regardless of how many customers it has.

"The decisive thing is not the number of current orders, but the market perspective in the long run. With 25 planes per year, it is very good," Michael Hauger said.

Les Echos suggested a cancellation wouldn't be all bad for the European planemaker, since it would allow Airbus to concentrate on the passenger version of the A380 - for which it currently has 142 firm orders - and potentially save up to €1 billion (US$1.3 billion).

On Wednesday, Airbus parent European Aeronautic Defence and Space Co. issued a profit warning largely blamed on the A380, the world's biggest passenger jet, and confirmed it lost its lead in passenger plane orders to rival Boeing Co. last year.

Shares in EADS were up 1.3 percent to €24.37 (US$31.56) in Paris trading.


AP Business Writer Harry Weber in Atlanta contributed to this report.