‘Obviously it is a big problem and a challenge for us,’ Mike Simon, senior vice-president, corporate communications told MEED on 13 June. ‘We are considering what it will mean to us in terms of schedule and routes, but I don’t think it will stop us. We are evaluating the situation and will engage with Airbus in three or four weeks.’

Emirates is the largest customer for the aircraft, with 45 on order. It had originally been scheduled to begin receiving planes in October this year. Simon confirmed that the airline will now receive its first 555-seat passenger plane in October 2007, instead of April. First flights are set to begin in January 2008. Simon would not be drawn on whether Emirates would seek compensation for the delays.

In a statement, Airbus said it was likely that only nine aircraft would be delivered in 2007. ‘The new delays are caused by industrial issues only,’ said the statement. ‘They are mainly traceable to bottlenecks formed in the definition, manufacturing and installation of electrical systems and resulting harnesses.’