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Mon, Aug 08, 2005 - Page 12 News List

Singapore Airlines slams Airbus


Singapore Airlines (SIA) has criticized Airbus for the delay in manufacture of its giant, new A380 planes, telling a German news magazine Saturday it was pressing for compensation.

"I wish they had been more honest," said SIA chief executive Choon Seng Chew, 58, in the remarks to the Munich-based weekly Focus, which were made public two days before Focus hits the streets.

"Airbus took quite a long time to admit that the A380 program was running behind schedule."

Singapore Airlines is set to take the first production aircraft that leave the factory. Delivery has been delayed from March next year to November next year, Chew said.

Under the contract, SIA was entitled to compensation, he added.

"It's like a taxi ride. The longer the ride, the dearer it is. It will cost Airbus more for every month of delay," said Chew.

Because of the delay, SIA is to put 19 new Boeing 777-300ER airliners into service before the huge A380 arrives.

Chew said Singapore Airlines still insisted on being the first user.

"After us, about half a year later, Emirates and Qantas will get them. The interval remains the same, because the delay affects each airline equally," he said.

In a related development, another German news magazine, Der Spiegel, reported that a US legislative proposal for big planes to carry anti-missile defenses might hamper the A380 project.

It said a draft by Congressman John Mica, chairman of the House of Representatives aviation subcommittee, would affect Airbus but not Boeing, since it would only apply to aircraft with a maximum capacity above 800 seats or a minimum takeoff weight of 408 tonnes.

Mica proposed these larger planes be equipped to deflect shoulder-fired surface-to-air missiles once the US Federal Aviation Administration had approved a system.

Northrop Grumman is currently studying whether lasers can be used to fool heat-seeking missiles.

Der Spiegel, also set to publish today, said the technical difficulty and cost would hamper Airbus just as US noise requirements had blocked sales of the Anglo-French supersonic airliner Concorde.

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