LONDON, Oct 27 (Reuters) The biggest buyer of the world's biggest airliner, Dubai-based carrier Emirates, said on Friday the Airbus A380 was 5.5 tonnes overweight in addition to two years behind schedule.
However, it has not yet started negotiations with the plane maker regarding these issues, Emirates President Tim Clark told reporters while visiting a new lounge at London's Heathrow Airport designed to handle Emirates' A380s.
Emirates has 43 of the 0 million Airbus A380 superjumbo on order and has been a vocal critic of planemaker Airbus, which is running two years behind schedule on the plane after encountering problems in installing their wiring.
The airline's first A380 is now expected to be delivered in August 2008, which will force it to lease other aircraft in the interim.
Clark said he plans to lease seven Boeing 777 planes and will hold onto them for 10 to 15 years, giving himself some insurance should there be any further delay to the A380 schedule.
''It would be foolish to say we do not expect anything further,'' Clark told reporters when asked if the third and most recent delay in the A380 would be the last.
Airlines angered by the delay have demanded late-delivery fees from Airbus and some have threatened to cancel their orders.
Clark said cancellation was one of many options open in the negotiations but stressed that Emirates had not yet engaged with Airbus on this issue.
Emirates was set to send its own eight-person audit team to Airbus manufacturing facilities in Toulouse, France and Hamburg, Germany, to assess how realistic the planemaker's latest proposed delivery schedule is, he added.
Two of the planes ordered by Emirates were to be freighter versions but the airline decided earlier this year to take the two as passenger models instead.
Emirates also balked at taking delivery of 20 Airbus A340-600 HGW (high gross weight) aircraft earlier this year in the wake of the planemaker's plans for a new model, the A350, which could eclipse the A340.
Emirates is looking for as many as 100 mid-sized, long-range planes, with the A350 or Boeing Co.'s 787 the main contenders for a deal that could be worth billion at list prices.
REUTERS PDM HS1839