Emirates Airline, the world's largest operator of Airbus's A380 superjumbo, has lambasted the aircraft maker and plans to seek compensation after complaining of widespread disruption to the carrier following the discovery of wing cracks on the jet.
Emirates is having to temporarily ground all of its 21 superjumbos six at any one time while the wing cracks are fixed.
Tim Clark, Emirates' president, told the Financial Times that the airline expected to lose up to $90m of revenue by the end of March because of the A380 groundings that began in January, adding the Dubai-based carrier would be seeking compensation from Airbus.
Airbus has suffered acute embarrassment and angered some of its customers following the discovery of two types of cracks on a L-shaped bracket that connects the A380 wing skin to its internal structure.
Regulators last month ordered airlines to carry out inspections of all A380s once they have completed 1,300 flights after concluding the cracks could compromise the aircraft's structural integrity.
Like Airbus, Mr Clark said the A380 was safe to fly, but added: "From a commercial point of view, it's a dreadful experience. It has caused a lot of commercial hardship and we are not very happy with the way this has gone."
Emirates has found wing cracks on the 10 A380s that have been inspected so far, and Mr Clark said it was likely that all 21 would need remedial work.
He criticised Airbus' handling of the wing cracking issue, accusing the company of initially being in a state of "denial" about the scale of the problem, although he accepted the company was now seeking to rectify the situation.
Emirates has a further 69 A380s on order with Airbus.
Singapore Airlines, the first carrier to operate the A380 back in 2007, has found cracks on all 10 superjumbos that it has inspected so far. Air France, the first European carrier to operate the A380, is inspecting one superjumbo.
EADS Airbus's parent company said on Thursday that it had made a €105m provision to cover the cost of repairing the 67 A380s that are flying today. Louis Gallois, EADS' chief executive, said the repair costs "will be borne by Airbus, and are within the warranty provision".
An Airbus spokesman declined to discuss compensation for airlines operating the A380, saying: "We are paying the cost of the repairs. The details are private."
He defended Airbus's handling of the issue, saying: "We have always communicated in real time, as soon as we had confirmed information, with both our customers and the authorities."
Source Financial Times