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Last Updated: Friday, 2 March 2007, 12:22 GMT
Airbus freighter woes hit EADS
Freight version of the Airbus A380
Airbus says it will press ahead with A380 freighter in the future
Shares in Airbus parent firm EADS have fallen by as much as 3.9%, after the firm said it was suspending work on a freight version of its A380 superjumbo.

Airbus revealed on Thursday that it was planning to focus on the main passenger version of the troubled project.

Doubts over the freight version of the A380 increased last week, after US courier firm United Parcel Service postponed its order for the plane.

Airbus confirmed earlier this week it was cutting 10,000 jobs across Europe.

The firm said on Wednesday that it would axe 8,300 jobs in France and Germany, as well as 1,600 staff in the UK and 400 in Spain.

Airbus has been struggling in the wake of production delays to its flagship A380 passenger jet project, which has cost the firm about 5bn euros (3.4bn; $6.6bn).

Future plans

Airbus no doubt prefers to focus all of its means on the passenger version of the A380
Credit Mutuel CIC

Airbus said development of the A380F freighter had been "temporarily cut off... so that all capacities can be directed at the A380 passenger version".

But a spokesman insisted development of the freight version would continue in the future, adding the company saw potential for sales of up to 400 of the giant aircraft over the next 20 years.

Analysts said Airbus' move to suspend work on the freighter would come as welcome news to the European planemaker's arch-rival Boeing, leaving the US firm with no major competitor in the market for large cargo aircraft.

United Parcel Service's decision to postpone delivery of 10 A380 freighters followed the cancellation of an order for 10 of the aircraft from rival US courier group Federal Express in November.

"Airbus no doubt prefers to focus all of its means on the passenger version of the A380 and on the cargo version of the A330, which was approved at the beginning of the year," said brokers Credit Mutuel CIC in a note to clients.

In early afternoon trade on the Paris Cac 40 index, shares in EADS were quoted down 2.6% at 23.98 euros.

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