AIRSHOW-Airbus CEO warns A380 sales target tough to reach

BERLIN, Sept 11 Tue Sep 11, 2012 3:33am IST

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BERLIN, Sept 11 (Reuters) - Airbus's chief executive said a sales target for the European planemaker's A380 superjumbo will be tough to reach after wing cracks put off prospective customers.

"We have a target of 30 aircraft but we probably will have some difficulty reaching it," Fabrice Bregier told journalists late on Monday, a day before the ILA Berlin Air Show opens.

Bregier's comments echoed earlier remarks by parent EADS's CEO Tom Enders and Airbus sales chief John Leahy.

Nonetheless, he voiced optimism that the A380 will continue to attract interest from airlines following the appearance of hairline cracks in the wings of some A380s requiring inspections and fixes where the problem was found.

"I expect that we can get new customers for the A380," Bregier said. "I also think some of our existing customers will come up with additional orders. I don't think that the 747-8 will be a huge competitor (for the A380)."

EADS plans to deliver 30 of the jets to customers in 2012, but has also called this target into question on reluctance among some customers to take aircraft with an interim wing repair that it has devised until a definitive solution becomes available in 2014.

Airbus sees great potential for A380 orders especially from China, which it sees exceeding the United States in terms of potential orders by value over the next 20 years.

"China is not yet there, but it will be a huge market for the A380," Bregier said.

Bregier recently travelled to China with German Chancellor Angela Merkel to speak with customers there and drum up business amid a spat over the European Union's emissions trading scheme (ETS).

If the dispute is not resolved, Airbus will have to cut its production target for the A330 "pretty soon", Bregier said.

Airbus earlier this year warned that it could only increase production of the A330 to 11 a month in the second quarter of 2014 if opposition from China and others to the ETS did not derail aircraft orders.

China has threatened retaliation over plans to charge airlines through the European Union's emissions trading scheme, but Bregier said he was confident that a trade war could be avoided in the long run.

"People realise that a deadlock is not reasonable."

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