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Airbus revises A380 break-even point

Now 420 aircraft, up from 270

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Airbus parent company EADS has announced a new break-even point for its troubled A380 programme - 420 aircraft as opposed to the previous 270, the BBC reports. Current orders for the A380 stand at 159.

The A380 roll-out has now been delayed three times due to "wiring problems" and the first example will not be delivered until October 2007.

New Airbus big cheese Louis Gallois recently admitted "painful" job losses were likely as a result of the knock-backs, while Rolls-Royce earlier this month suspended A380 engine production while "waiting for more details about requirements from Airbus".

Airbus has calculated that the whole sorry saga will cost it €2.8bn in profits over the next four years, added to the €2bn it announced back in June 2006.

Airlines, meanwhile, have expressed growing frustration at the situation. Qantas, which won't take delivery of the first of 12 A380s it's ordered until August 2008, recently asked: "How are we going to mount the capacity in the short-term?" Emirates, the biggest customer to date with 43 on order, admitted it was "reviewing its options".

On a brighter note, EADS chief financial officer Andreas Sperl told a gathering of analysts and investors that Airbus "still expected to sell more than 750 of its new planes over the life of the project". ®

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