Emirates Says Airbus Delivery Delay Has Hurt Badly, Wants Compensation

The airline Emirates has confirmed it is seeking financial compensation from Airbus, saying the two-year delay in delivery for the super-jumbo A380 plane had affected it "badly."

But the airline declined Tuesday to confirm compensation figures published in the French press, saying the compensation clauses for the contract to purchase 45 of the European-built planes were "confidential."

"We don't intend to say any more," said the statement issued by the Emirates media office.

The rapidly expanding Emirates is the world's biggest customer for the A380, having ordered 45 models of the 555-seat, double-deck aircraft in a deal worth about US$13.5 billion.

"We are determined to claim compensation. We've been badly hurt by this delay," the chief executive of the airline, Sheik Ahmad bin Saeed Al Maktoum, was quoted as saying in an interview published Monday by the Emirates newspaper Al-Bayan.

"After the first delay, we had the option of canceling the deal, but we didn't - maybe because the results would have been worse," Al Maktoum said.

Airbus, which is based in Toulouse, France, has announced three delays in delivery for the super-jumbo since early 2005. The latest delay, declared in the past few months, stretched delivery to two years.

Al Maktoum was quoted as saying Emirates expected to receive its planes by August 2008.

The French newspaper Le Parisien reported Tuesday that Emirates is seeking euro223 million (US$294 million) in compensation.

An Airbus representative in France declined to confirm the figure and said that discussions with Emirates over compensation were "nothing new."

Another customer for the super-jumbo, Singapore Airlines, has said Airbus had agreed to provide compensation for the delivery delay, but that the terms were confidential.

Airbus has received a total of 167 firm orders for the A380.

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