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Airbus Signals Decision On A3XX Production To Come 'Shortly'

Airbus Industrie, the European aerospace consortium, says it will decide "shortly" on whether to go ahead with a commercial launch of the A3XX "superjumbo" airliner. Issues remain outstanding about both the A3XX and the reorganization of Airbus as a fully integrated company, the Airbus partners said in a brief statement on June 8. The timing of the A3XX's official takeoff clearance has come under intensifying scrutiny in recent weeks as a series of high-level meetings among Airbus shareholders -- Germany's DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa), Spain's Construccionnes Aeronauticas (Casa), the UK's BAe Systems PLC, and France's Aeropsatiale Matra -- has been delayed. Final clearance for what would be the world's biggest jetliner could help the European aerospace consortium end Boeing's dominance of the lucrative market for long-haul jets. Airbus has considered building the A3XX for years, but has yet to put it up for sale as rivalries flared about where to build it and doubts lingered about whether there was enough of a market for the massive aircraft. But with potential orders for more than 50 of the 555-seat aircraft from eight customers already lined up, many observers say it is now no longer a matter of "if" the A3XX will launch, only "when." Airbus has identified four of the eight potential customers: Singapore Airlines, Dubai's Emirates airline, Air France, and U.S.-based International Lease Finance Corp. Those companies would buy at least 32 aircraft in all, with the first planes to be delivered in 2005. Airbus has not announced who the remaining interested airlines are, but Malaysian Airlines, Cathay Pacific, and Australia's Qantas have all been in talks. Other potential carriers -- United Air Lines, British Airways, and Lufthansa -- have said that there is no need in the foreseeable future for the A3XX.

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