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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 11:46 GMT
Airbus upbeat on superjumbo sales
Airbus A380 in flight
Airbus hopes to win over the world's press with an A380 flight

A top Airbus executive has said the planemaker has overcome its woes and expects to sell at least another 20 of its A380 superjumbos in 2007.

Chief operating officer for customers, John Leahy, said the firm was "back on track" after a spate of problems.

He was speaking as Airbus took media for a flight in the plane as part of a fightback against bad publicity.

Meanwhile, Airbus boss Louis Gallois hinted that factories would close if new business partners weren't found.

We'll get the job done and get these airplanes out the door
John Leahy
Airbus

Delays caused largely by wiring in the plane, have already cost the firm more than $6bn (3.3bn) and Airbus has warned there could be additional charges to come.

However Mr Leahy told CNBC Europe that the technical problems now appeared to have been resolved.

"We're back on track....we'll get the job done and get these airplanes out the door," he said.

His prediction of orders for 20 A380s this year would be more than the 17 received in 2006, and equal to those taken in 2005.

Restructuring

In an interview in Germany's Die Welt newspaper, Mr Gallois said that the company would have to look for partners if it is to continue operating all of its existing plants.

"We have excellent sites in Germany, France, Britain and Spain (but) we cannot afford in the long run to invest on our own all that is needed to maintain each site" he said.

The planemaker is due to unveil its Power8 cost-cutting plan on 20 February, with speculation that there will be job losses across Europe.

Airbus A380

There has been particular concern among German unions that the restructuring plans may hit some of the 23,000 full-time and 6,300 part-time staff that Airbus employs at seven sites in Germany.

At the weekend, the German economy minister Michael Glos appeared to threaten that his government would reconsider its defence contracts with Airbus' parent company EADS if the review hits German workers more than French ones.

Airbus hit back, saying that a cancellation of German defence orders would cost even more German jobs.

Warned

The media flight will see reporters taken from Airbus' Toulouse headquarters in Southern France for a flight over the Atlantic.

It will be the first time that the A380 has carried passengers who are not Airbus staff or customers.

The first A380s will not be delivered until late this year - two years behind schedule.

Airbus currently has orders for 159 of the superjumbo but Virgin Atlantic has deferred its order for four years to 2013, while Emirates has warned that it might cancel some of its order for 43 planes.


VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
A guided tour of the A380 cockpit.



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