Emirates Airlines Considers Canceling Huge Airbus Order

Emirates airlines said Thursday that its order of 45 Airbus A380 jumbo jets was "up in the air," after the manufacturer announced deliveries of the plane would be delayed.

Spokeswoman Valerie Tan said officials at the Dubai-based airline were discussing whether to go forward with the order.

"Things are up in the air right now. It's hard for us to say. We had such a big order," Tan said by telephone Thursday. "We haven't really been officially informed (of the possible delay). There's no letter yet. There's no official discussions."

Earlier Thursday, Emirates airlines released a statement saying it had not yet had discussions with Airbus on a new delivery schedule and had no plans to withdraw its long-standing order.

European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., the parent company of Airbus, said Thursday that it expects further delays in its troubled Airbus A380 program.

The 555-seat airplane has a list price of US$300 million, valuing Emirates' order at roughly US$13.5 billion.

Emirates' A380 order includes 43 planes being purchased from Airbus as well as two from a separate leasing company, Tan said.

On Wednesday, the French financial daily Les Echos reported that Airbus would announce a further six-month delay in deliveries of the super-jumbo.

EADS said it had found "challenges with the wiring" of its aircraft and had not prepared a final delivery schedule or calculated financial impacts of the delays. The company said it would provide more details on the delays and remedies in four weeks.

"Consequently, from what is known today, there will be further delays," EADS said in a prepared release.

The French newspaper, which did not cite sources, said the new production hitch was caused by problems at the A380 assembly plant at Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, southern France.

The flagship superjumbo program has already slipped by about 12 months. Airbus announced a first six-month delay early in 2005, followed by a second in June this year.

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