LONDON, (Reuters) – Airline Emirates said on Tuesday it had been informed of a further 10-month delay in the Airbus A380 superjumbo and said it was a “very serious” issue for the airline.
The announcement came as the board of Airbus parent EADS was set to reveal the extent of the latest problems slowing expected deliveries of the $300 million double-decker planes.
“Our first aircraft will now arrive in August 2008. This is a very serious issue for Emirates and the company is now reviewing all its options,” Emirates President Tim Clark said in a statement. Emirates is the biggest buyer of the 555-seat A380, with 43 on order.
Virgin Atlantic said it had also been informed by Airbus of a delay in the A380.
Airbus, which last month acknowledged that a fresh delay in the A380 was likely but did not quantify it, could not immediately be reached for comment.
Two of the planes ordered by Emirates were to be freighter versions but the airline decided earlier this year against that plane, agreeing to take the two as passenger models instead.
Emirates also balked at taking delivery of 20 of the Airbus A340-600 HGW (high gross weight) earlier this year in the wake of the planemaker’s plans for a new model, the A350, which could eclipse the A340.
Emirates is looking for as many as 100 mid-sized, long-range planes, with the A350 or Boeing Co.’s 787 the main contenders for a deal that could be worth $15 billion at list prices.
Virgin, which has ordered six of the planes, said in July it was in talks with Airbus about changing the mix and number of its Airbus orders to fill a possible gap caused by the last delay.
Virgin is 49 percent owned by Singapore Airlines another buyer of the A380 and the airline set to take delivery of the first one.
Air France-KLM and Germany’s Lufthansa both declined to comment on delays to the A380s they have ordered.
The latest delay would be the third in the 12 billion euro ($15.3 billion) A380 programme.
After earlier delays airlines demanded late delivery fees from Airbus and some have threatened to cancel their orders.