Airbus expects a drop in deliveries of its A380 superjumbo in 2013 as it introduces a fix to recent wing component cracks, the chief executive of parent EADS said on Friday.
EADS has maintained a forecast for 30 A380 deliveries in 2012 but faces reluctance among some customers to take aircraft with an interim wing repair that it has devised until a definitive solution becomes available in 2014.
Qatar Airways has said it would rather wait until the new aircraft is available rather than have to return the double-decker for final repairs once it has already entered service.
"We do expect that the hiccup with the wing cracks and the solutions will impact deliveries and I do expect that we will not reach 30 deliveries next year," EADS chief executive Tom Enders told reporters.
"Obviously we have a challenge dealing with the wing cracks and with customers and that will result in a temporary - temporary - delivery doubt. But we know how to fix the problem and it's well under way."
EADS is progressively taking charges for the A380 cracks but a drop in deliveries would add a cash impact as airlines pay for most of the jet at delivery. The A380 sells for USD$390 million at list prices but most airlines receive significant discounts.
Enders also questioned whether Airbus would reach a separate objective of selling 30 A380s in 2012, throwing his weight behind sales chief John Leahy who cast doubt on the target at the Farnborough Airshow. Airbus later reiterated the target.
"I share the slight doubts that John expressed in Farnborough about achieving the 30 new orders this year, but I am quite sure there is more potential in the coming years," Enders said.
"Let's be honest: We have a problem with the A380 with the wings. Obviously, some airlines who would have put in an order this year are tempted to wait a little longer."
Enders said Airbus expected to have European safety authority approval for its proposed solution to the cracked rib feet inside the A380's wings within weeks.