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Airbus delivers first A380

Singapore Airlines takes the controls

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Airbus this morning delivered its first A380 to Singapore Airlines ahead of the aircraft's maiden commercial flight on 25 October.

The long-awaited hand over took place at the Airbus Delivery Centre in Toulouse.

Airbus president and CEO Tom Enders told the 500-odd people at today's ceremony: "This is a landmark day for all those who worked so hard over the years to make it happen. It is also a tribute to all the engineers and workers who developed the A380, as well as all our customers who selected this magnificent and highly efficient jetliner. We appreciate the confidence they have shown in Airbus and for staying with us through troubled times."

The A380 programme has been beset by delays provoked mainly by wiring problems, prompting several airlines to express their disquiet and threaten to reconsider their orders.

Airbus's woes earlier this year led to a major restructuring plan aimed at cutting costs and shedding 10,000 jobs. Soon after, the company posted its first ever loss, directly fingering the A380 debacle as the cause.

Rival Boeing, meanwhile, has its own troubles with the 787 Dreamliner. It recently delayed delivery of the first example, shortly after claiming All-Nippon Airways would be able to get its hands on the controls by May 2008.

The Airbus A380 has now attracted 165 firm orders and 24 commitments from 16 customers including Qantas (20), Virgin Atlantic (6), and Emirates (the biggest order of 47). British Airways is "committed" to 12, while Spain's Grupo Marsans last week signed a "Memorandum of Understanding" to buy a substantial 61 Airbus aircraft, including four A380s. ®

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