Airbus is conducting a "major review" of its delivery schedule for the A380 superjumbo, the company's chief executive said Tuesday, a plane that has been plagued by delays.
Speaking at a company site in the United Arab Emirates, CEO Thomas Enders acknowledged that the goal of delivering four A380s per month by 2010 won't be easy.
The review is "standard practice" at this stage in the plane's development, he said.
"We're currently conducting a major review" of the program, Enders said at the opening of an Airbus material and logistics center in Dubai, headquarters of A380 customer Emirates Airlines.
His comments were relayed by Airbus spokesman Stefan Schaffrath. The spokesman withdrew earlier comments saying Airbus is "confident more than ever" about the program that he had attributed to Enders.
Airbus has previously said it is committed to handing over 13 A380s in 2008, 25 in 2009, and 45 in 2010.
"The A380 is in the critical phase of steep production ramp-up," Schaffrath said.
Airbus is reviewing whether workers and suppliers are ready for the change from individual plane production to full industrialization, and whether the delivery schedule can be maintained, Schaffrath said.
The planemaker has already been hit with penalties for late delivery of the A380, which combined with spiraling development costs wiped billions from Airbus profits.
Airbus has delivered the first four of six superjumbos destined for Singapore Airlines. The European planemaker will have to redesign cabins and electrical layouts for Emirates Airlines and Qantas.
Enders said in October that increasing A380 production is Airbus' greatest challenge for the coming years. The workload of making one A380 is equivalent to eight of the single-aisle A320, Airbus' most popular jet.
Airbus has gone through five CEOs in the last two years, and is now in the midst of a restructuring plan that would cut 10,000 jobs over four years and sell off plants France, Germany and Britain. Airbus recently said it would create a holding company and keep three of the German plants.
Workers at three of Airbus' four French factories went on strike Tuesday for the second time in a week, demanding equal treatment for French and German employees. Thousands staged a demonstration in front of an administrative site near Toulouse.
Also Tuesday, Airbus announced that Tunisair has ordered 16 new jetliners from the European planemaker.
Airbus said in a statement that the "letter of acceptance" from the Tunisian carrier covers the purchase of 10 single-aisle A320s, three wide-body A330s and three of the revamped, long-range A350 XWBs.
Airbus did not provide a value for the deal. Based on list prices, the deal would be worth about $1.94 billion — though airlines often negotiate substantial discounts.
Shares of EADS, Airbus' parent company, fell 1.4 percent to $24.19.