hursday April 20, 1:41 pm Eastern Time
Airbus expected to unveil first A3XX buyer -source
PARIS, April 20 (Reuters) - Dubai's government-owned Emirates airline is set to become
the first carrier to announce its intention to buy the Airbus A3XX superjumbo airplane, an
industry source said on Thursday.
A brief report in French weekly Le Point on Thursday said Emirates would announce in
Cairo its plans to purchase the mammoth 555-seater, which Airbus [ARBU.CN] hopes to launch by the end of this year and
begin delivering by 2005.
The source confirmed the contents of the report to Reuters and said they expected Airbus to take part in the announcement in
Cairo this weekend.
Officials at Emirates airline were not immediately available to comment. A spokesman at Airbus would only say that Emirates
was among 20 airlines Airbus was talking with on the A3XX.
The Toulouse-based consortium, which is scheduled to be transformed into the Airbus Integrated Company under EADS, is
building the plane to end rival Boeing Co's (NYSE:BA - news) monopoly of the jumbo market with its 747.
But questions about airline demand have plagued the project and Boeing has repeatedly said it does not believe there is a
market for a plane larger than its own jumbo.
Last week Airbus Industrie head Noel Forgeard said he had at least five airlines ready to back the superjumbo and was
``reasonably confident'' it could be launched later this year.
Emirates would be the first airline to officially confirm its plans to buy the aircraft.
However, since the Airbus board has not authorised the consortium's sales team to sign contracts for the plane, the carrier is
unlikely to do much more than announce plans to buy a certain number of planes in the event Airbus goes ahead with the
The Airbus consortium includes Aerospatiale Matra , DaimlerChrysler Aerospace and Spain's Casa, who are merging to form
EADS, as well as BAE Systems (quote from Yahoo! UK & Ireland: BA.L).