Airbus Won't Confirm Cancellations, Unperturbed by Outside Auditors

Airbus said Monday that a visit by Emirates Airlines to check on A380 production plants is simply a follow-up on a promise of transparency to customers of the superjumbo made by former CEO Christian Streiff.

The European planemaker said it was not aware that Dubai's Emirates Airlines, the biggest customer of the A380, was canceling an order for 10 A340-600 jetliners, as reported Sunday on The Wall Street Journal Web site.

As to the visit to Toulouse by auditors to assess the planemaker's progress on building its A380 superjumbo - now two years behind schedule - Airbus was apparently unperturbed.

It's "something agreed to at the time of Christian Streiff," said spokesman Justin Dubon. "He promised customers that they would be kept up to date ... and briefed on the progress of the A380."

The plan for updates was on a monthly basis, Dubon said, and "it's up to customers to come and see and investigate how they'd like to."

Streiff was replaced on Oct. 9 by Louis Gallois, the fourth Airbus CEO in 16 months.

The Wall Street Journal report quoted Emirates President Tim Clark as saying his airline will not take the Airbus A340-600 jetliners it had ordered and is sending auditors to assess the European plane maker's progress on the A380 superjumbo program.

Emirates will instead order 777 models from Boeing Co., Emirates Executive Vice Chairman Maurice Flanagan said, the Journal reported.

The switch - which follows Clark's complaints last year about the high operating cost of the A340 family of planes - shows how Boeing is benefiting from troubles at Airbus, a unit of Franco-German European Aeronautic Defence & Space Co., the paper said.

The Emirates order for 10 A340-600 jetliners had a catalog value of $2.25 billion (euro1.8 billion), according to the newspaper.

Clark also said Emirates will send engineers to check on in France and Germany. The engineers will examine how Airbus managers are resolving industrial problems that have pushed production of the world's largest passenger plane two years behind schedule and more than one-third over its original $12 billion (euro9.5 billion) budget, the paper said.

Emirates has ordered 43 superjumbos from Airbus and a further two from a leasing company. Airbus has taken a total of 167 firm orders for the A380, including an eight-plane order from Australia's Qantas announced Sunday.

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