Airbus said Wednesday that deliveries of its 21st century flagship, the double-decker A380 super-jumbo, would be delayed by as many as six months, taking the flourish off one of the most trumpeted aviation launches in decades.
Airbus, which is betting on the A380 to maintain the lead it took over U.S. rival Boeing Co. in 2003, had warned customer Singapore Airlines Ltd. in April that it would receive its planes late next year instead of in March. Singapore CEO Chew Choon Seng has since said he plans to demand compensation.
The Toulouse-based plane maker acknowledged Wednesday that the delay could affect other A380 customers, after Air France-KLM Group, Emirates and Australia's Qantas Airways Ltd. said they too were expecting their super-jumbos late.
Qantas said its 12 A380s would arrive six months late because of "manufacturing issues" and said it would be seeking financial redress.
Emirates said it did not yet know how late its A380s would arrive but hinted that it would be seeking compensation.
"We will expect Airbus to fully meet its obligations in accordance with the contract between our two companies," the Dubai-based carrier said.
Like most airliners in development, the A380 struggled to keep its weight down and meet customers' specifications. The design challenge, and a decision to make more freighter versions, contributed to a cost overrun estimated by Airbus CEO Noel Forgeard at $1.77 billion.
Airbus declined to comment on its exposure to compensation claims, saying the terms of its sales contracts remain confidential.
Deutsche Lufthansa, which had not been expecting its first A380s until late 2007, said it too had been warned that they might arrive later.
Air France said it had postponed its planned April 2007 launch of A380 services because of the production setback.