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Last Updated: Thursday, 19 October 2006, 16:20 GMT 17:20 UK
Airbus hikes A380 break-even mark
A380 test flight in Australia
Qantas is one of the airlines frustrated by A380 delays
European aircraft maker Airbus has raised the number of A380 superjumbos it needs to sell to make a profit on the project.

The A380 programme has been beset by huge cost over-runs and long delays.

The firm's parent company EADS now says it needs to sell 420 A380s to break even, up from a previous estimate of 270 aircraft.

To date, Airbus has sold 159 A380s and the first plane is now due in October 2007 - two years behind schedule.

Long-term hopes

The aircraft's biggest customer, Emirates, recently said it was considering its options in light of the delays.

A380 ORDERS SO FAR
Emirates: 43 aircraft
Lufthansa: 15
Qantas: 12
Air France: 10
Singapore Airlines: 10
Fedex: 10
International Lease Finance: 10
UPS: 10
Thai Airways: 6
Virgin Atlantic: 6
Korean Air Lines: 5
Etihad Airways: 4
Qatar Airways: 2
China Southern Airlines: 5
Kingfisher Airlines: 5
Malaysia Airlines: 6
Source: Airbus

But in a presentation to analysts and investors, EADS chief financial officer Andreas Sperl said that the planemaker still expected to sell more than 750 of its new planes over the life of the project.

The presentation came as speculation built about who would be named as the new managing director at Airbus.

Louis Gallois was appointed chief executive last week after the resignation of Christian Streiff.

His number two has been tipped to be Fabrice Bregier - head of EADS helicopter unit, Eurocopter.

Shake up

The problems Airbus is having with its A380 have prompted the company to examine how it runs its businesses.

Earlier this month, the company warned of "painful" job losses as a result of the problems with the A380.

That prompted France and Germany, the biggest shareholders in Airbus-owner EADS, to call for the redundancies to be fairly shared.

Trade unions have said they will fight to preserve jobs and keep factories open.

Airbus said on Thursday that it was ready to start addressing difficult social and political issues.

The co-chief executive of EADS Thomas Enders said that he believed in the success of the A380 and was sure that Airbus would recover its former strength.


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