Paris: In another jolt to Airbus' super-jumbo A380 programme, UPS Inc (United Parcel Service), the world's largest shipping carrier, cancelled its order for 10 cargo versions of these aircraft. The cancellation by UPS, which comes four months after a cancellation by rival FedEx of a similar number, now leaves Airbus with no orders for the A380F freighters.
The move by UPS comes just a week after it announced a revised agreement with Airbus that gave either party the right to terminate the order. In a statement, Atlanta-based UPS said its decision to cancel was based on the information that Airbus was diverting employees from the freighter programme to work on its passenger plane programme.
The carrier also confirmed that the final cancellation agreement would be formally presented to Airbus on the first date specified under last week's agreement. According to a UPS spokesman, the carrier had lost confidence in the ability of the Touluse-based manufacturer to meet delivery schedules of the A380F.
The A380 program has already suffered a two-year delay that has set it back by 5 billion euros ($6.6 billion). Airbus still has orders for passenger versions of the A380, though.
A380 progressing well…
Meanwhile, Airbus put on a brave face after UPS announced its decision, and said that the shipping carrier remained "a valuable and strong customer and business partner for Airbus." It also said that on the whole, the A380 programme "is progressing well and in line with the new timetable, with the first delivery to the first customer in October 2007." The launch customer is Singapore Airlines.
Airbus also confirmed that development of the A380F freighter had been "temporarily cut off... so that all capacities can be directed at the A380 passenger version". According to an Airbus spokesperson, development of the freight version would continue in the future, and that the company saw potential for sales of up to 400 of the giant aircraft over the next 20 years.
According to analysts, the UPS cancellation would turn out to be a boon for Airbus rival, Chicago-based Boeing, whose time-tested 747 is now the only alternative to the A380. They say that the UPS and FedEx cancellation now give Boeing effective command over the very large freighter market, at least in the near term.
UPS had ordered its first 10 A380 aircraft in 2005 for use on US-Asia routes, with the option to buy 10 more planes.