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Last Updated: Sunday, 5 June, 2005, 12:04 GMT 13:04 UK
Virgin seeks Airbus delay talks
Virgin Atlantic boss Richard Branson with a model of the A380 super-jumbo
Virgin has ordered six of Airbus' giant A380 passenger jets
Virgin Atlantic is seeking urgent talks with Airbus after being told its $1.5bn (828m) order for the A380 super-jumbo will be delayed by up to six months.

Virgin, the only UK airline so far to have ordered the A380, said it planned to raise the issue of compensation with Airbus for late delivery of the plane.

The aircraft maker warned last week that deliveries of the world's biggest passenger jet would be pushed back.

Virgin, which has ordered six A380s, said the delay was "disappointing".

'Knock-on effect'

Confirmation by Airbus of the delays came after Australian airline Qantas revealed last week that delivery of the first of its 12 A380s had been put back from October 2006 to April 2007.

Singapore Airlines, which is due to be the first carrier to fly the A380, had also previously warned of delays.

A380 ORDERS SO FAR
Emirates: 43 aircraft
Lufthansa: 15
Qantas: 12
Air France: 10
Singapore Airlines: 10
Fedex: 10
International Lease Finance: 10
MAS: 6
Thai Airways: 6
Virgin Atlantic: 6
Korean Airlines: 5
Etihad Airways: 4
Qatar Airways: 2

"We have been informed by Airbus that there will be a knock-on effect for our A380s," a spokesman for Virgin told BBC News.

"We are trying to meet with them as soon as possible to discuss the full implications and what our options are."

Virgin originally hoped to take delivery of the double-decker A380 in 2006, but the firm later pushed that date back to spring 2008.

The delivery delay means that Virgin will be unlikely to receive the first of its A380s until late 2008.

The firm has an option to buy another six of the giant planes, in addition to the six it has already ordered.

Performing well

Airbus said there was no specific reason for the delays, although Singapore Airlines has said the late delivery of its order had been caused by delays in testing.

"In most airline programmes of this size - including those of our competitors - things can run a little later than originally planned," a spokesman for Toulouse-based Airbus told the BBC last week. "The plane is continuing to perform well in tests."

The A380 has cost Airbus 12bn euros ($14bn; 8bn) to develop. The plane will be able to seat more than 800 passengers across twin decks.

Airbus is 80% owned by European aerospace and defence group EADS, and 20% by Britain's BAE Systems.


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