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Airbus reacts to complaints
[April 26, 2006]

Airbus reacts to complaints

(The Birmingham Post Via Thomson Dialog NewsEdge)European planemaker Airbus plans to decide on possible changes to its future A350 mid-sized aircraft by mid-2006 following complaints from customers, Airbus head Gus-tav Humbert said.

"We are talking intensively with our customers and looking very closely at the matter," Mr Humbert said in Dresden.

"We have an A350 that is good. If we can improve it, we will do that with profitability and the market in mind."

However, he declined to comment on details of possible changes or any financial implications.

His remarks suggest a decision could come in time for the Farnborough Air Show from July 17 to July 23.

Important Airbus customers including Singapore Airlines have criticised Airbus for not doing enough to make the A350 competitive with rival Boeing's 787 Dreamliner, which has sold out the first three years of production.

And the manufacturer is already facing delays on its double-decker A380 airplane programme and slumping sales of its four-engine A340.

Mr Humbert reiterated that Airbus plans to deliver at least 420 aircraft this year and wants to win just as many new orders.

The chief executive expected at least one new customer for its giant A380 superjumbo this year as well as the first additional orders for the plane from existing A380 customers.

The first A380s would be delivered to launch customer Singapore Airlines at the end of this year as planned, he added. Airbus was not currently working on a successor to the successful A320 family of short-haul aircraft, Mr Humbert said.

Airbus is 80 per cent owned by European aerospace group EADS. The remainder is owned by B AE Systems, which said recently it planned to sell the stake to EADS to enable it to make acquisitions in the US.

However, EADS co-chief executive Tom Enders yesterday said the price sought by BAE Systems for its stake in Airbus is "astronomical" and more than EADS is ready to pay.

"The British want an astronomical price. We are prepared to pay a fair price," he said at a business seminar.

EADS finance director Hans-Peter Ring also said it was "normal" for the ideas on price to be far apart, but he anticipates a deal by the end of this year.

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