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Qantas backs A380 by taking options for eight more

Qantas backs A380 by taking options for eight more

   Australia's Qantas Airways has taken up options for eight more Airbus A380s, bringing its total order for the much-delayed series to 20.

   In 2000, Qantas made an original order for 12 A380s with options for 12 more. Qantas' Chief Executive Officer Geoff Dixon said the airline had negotiated an 'attractive package' for the additional A380s as well as ordering four A330-200s to mitigate capacity concerns associated with the delay of the A380s.

   The A380s are scheduled for delivery to Qantas between August 2008 and 2015 while the A330-200s will be delivered between December 2007 and December 2008.

   'Our decision to increase our order has been made after an extensive review of the recent problems at Airbus and the delivery schedule delays of the A380,' Dixon said. 'We are convinced that these problems relate to industrialization issues at Airbus and will be remedied, and in no way relate to the technical capacity of the A380.

   'The A380 has breakthrough technology and everything we have seen reinforces our view that it is the best available aircraft for Qantas. It will provide unprecedented comfort and space, as well as meeting our payload and range requirements,' Dixon said.

   He added that the terms of the new contract provided protection against any further delay in the A380 delivery schedule and slide rights in the event of changed circumstances.

   Qantas also has an order for up to 115 of Boeing’s rival to the A380, the 787-8 'Dreamliner.' In a separate matter, Qantas has ordered five more Boeing 737-800 aircraft for delivery from February 2008 to replace older B737-400s in its Australian domestic operations. The B737-400s will either be sold, redeployed or converted to dedicated freighter aircraft.

   'The Boeing 787 and the Airbus A380 both have up to 20 percent lower operating costs than existing aircraft, and will form the nucleus of the fleets out to 2015 for Qantas and our low-cost airline Jetstar,' Dixon said.

   The order from Qantas will come as a relief to Airbus, which faces estimated late delivery penalties of about $6 billion that could lead to serious job cuts. The Toulouse, France-based manufacturer has also seen a series of CEOs come and go as a result of the repeated delays to the A380.

   Emirates Airline is reportedly canceling an order for up to 18 A340s and sending technicians to France to assess the progress of the A380.

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