A380 Airbus suffers Virgin knock-back

Carrier delays delivery

Virgin Airlines has said that it will not take delivery of its first Airbus A380 superjumbo until 2007 - a year later than planned.

The company says that delays in airports - particularly that of Los Angeles (LAX) - preparing to receive the enormous aircraft are partly behind the decision, as are difficulties in getting kit to customise the interior. A spokesman did, however, insist that the A380 still figured large in Virgin's plans: "We're still absolutely committed to the A380. But we really only want to fly with it in our livery when we're confident we can deliver the onboard service and airport level service which were designed for this aircraft. We want to do a number of innovative things on board... but unfortunately the supplier sector are not able to help us deliver our ambitions within a timeframe of a 2006 delivery."

Airbus admitted that modifications to LAX were a problem, but said that talk were ongoing to "ensure the new plane is launched on schedule". The company must hope that it is - Airbus parent company EADS shares dropped 3.67 per cent this morning after the Virgin announcement. ®

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