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Setback for sales of cargo version of giant Airbus

(DPA) / 2 June 2006

Dusseldorf, Germany - European plane-maker Airbus has suffered a setback in sales of the cargo version of its giant A380 plane, with the airline Emirates dropping two from its order, a German magazine said on Friday.

In Paris, Airbus confirmed the Dubai-based airline had cancelled orders for two such A380F jets, but said Emirates had ordered two passenger versions of the huge double-deck aircraft instead.

Airbus said this meant Emirates, the biggest customer for the huge jet, would still be buying 45 of the new planes.

The magazine, Wirtschaftswoche, quoted the European manager of Emirates, Keith Longstaff, as saying there was lack of clarity in the ”technical data” for the cargo version, and adding, “We want to see first how the plane turns out.”

Airbus has booked just 25 orders for the cargo version, with the first delivery, to Fed Ex of the United States, set for early 2009, the magazine said. The passenger version is set to enter service later this year.

Boeing aims to bring a new cargo version of its jumbo, the 747-8F, onto the market half a year after the A380F.

The magazine said aerospace experts were beginning to doubt if Airbus would ever recover through sales the hundreds of millions of euros it has additionally spent on developing the freight version of the A380.

Although the plane would be the world’s biggest air-cargo jet, airlines are wary of its high cost.

The planemaker is already under pressure from customers on another front, with demands to revamp its planned A350, a smaller twin- engined plane set to go on sale in 2010. The Boeing 787 Dreamliner has outsold the A350 three-to-one.

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