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Last Updated: Monday, 17 May, 2004, 12:31 GMT 13:31 UK
Virgin delays superjumbo arrivals
Airbus A380 superjumbo
Virgin Atlantic has pushed its plans to take delivery of the new Airbus superjumbo back by a year.

The airline says it will not now take delivery of the first six Airbus A380 planes until 2007.

Virgin had planned to have the 550-seat planes, which cost $250m (150.3m) each, in service by the summer of 2006.

It blamed airports for being slow to make changes to prepare for the giant aircraft - which has a wingspan of 80 metres - particularly Los Angeles.

Flying giant

The group also said it had had problems getting hold of the components needed to customise the plane's cabin.

"We're still absolutely committed to the A380," a spokesman said.

"But we really only want to fly with it in our livery when we're confident we can deliver the onboard service and airport level service which were designed for this aircraft.

"We want to do a number of innovative things on board... but unfortunately the supplier sector are not able to help us deliver our ambitions within a timeframe of a 2006 delivery."

The mammoth, double-decker planes will be the world's biggest airliner, capable of carrying up to 800 passengers.

But while the size will allow more mod cons and gimmicks on board, it has proved a problem for airports.

Big changes

Boarding ramps, baggage carousels, and even in some cases runways and taxiways must be modified to accommodate the aircraft.

Airbus said that the manufacturer and other airlines were also in talks with LAX (LA airport) to ensure the new plane is launched on schedule.

A spokeswoman said: "LAX is certainly an issue but it can be resolved."

And the delay proved a problem for the manufacturer - shares in its parent company EADS had dropped 3.67% on the news by 1145 GMT.

Virgin Atlantic is one of 11 companies that have ordered the A380, with Singapore Airlines set to receive the first off the production line in 2006.

Airbus hopes the giant plane will enable it to grab more market share from its US rival Boeing.

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