Airbus down, but not out

The Airbus A380, the world's largest passenger aircraft, sits near the new Terminal 3, Pier 6 after landing for the first time at Heathrow Airport in London on May 18, 2006.

TEXT OF INTERVIEW

SCOTT JAGOW: European plane maker Airbus probably wishes it turn back the clock and start 2006 all over again. Today, Airbus said last year was its worst year by far. It lost a billion dollars in the final quarter alone. Major delays in the A380 super-jumbo are a big reason. But all is not lost. British Airways wants to replace all of its long-haul jets. And it's giving Airbus a chance to beat out American rival Boeing for the contract. David Robertson is covering this for the Times of London. Now, David, British Airways uses Boeing for its big planes now. Why is it considering a switch?

DAVID ROBERTSON: Partly to keep Boeing honest. In the past Boeing might have expected to sweep this contract. By having a competition of course BA is capable of extracting larger discounts from whoever wins. Also, it's in BA's interest to look at the next generation of planes that are being developed and consider whether Boeing has got the competitive advantage.

JAGOW: Airbus has certainly had its share of problems lately. Could this be a make-or-break type of deal for Airbus?

ROBERTSON: In sheer number terms it's not make-or-break by any stretch of the imagination. But winning BA would be a massive boost for Airbus. They are working very hard to win this contract. British Airways is one of the most respected airlines in the world and a lot of airlines follow what BA does.

JAGOW: Is there any pressure being put upon British Airways to go with a European company?

ROBERTSON: No, they've always been quite good at avoiding that. There might have been back in the '80s and early-'90s but these days BA needs to buy the best planes it can buy and at the best price and the political factors will not really play a role for BA.

JAGOW: OK David thank you.

ROBERTSON: No problem, thanks very much.

JAGOW: David Robertson of the Times of London.

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