Airbus chief puts cost-cutting plan to board of EADS

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The new head of Airbus presented a cost-cutting plan to the board of its parent compant EADS yesterday which is understood to involve efficiency savings of as much as €2bn and a staff freeze that could see the workforce cut by 1,000.

Christian Streiff is also thought to favour a rationalisation of work on the troubled A380 super-jumbo so that final assembly is confined to Toulouse in France.

EADS said it was unable to release any new information on the production of the plane.

The directors agreed to reconvene soon to hammer out the details. EADS confirmed last week that deliveries of the 555-seater aircraft will be pushed back a third time, but gave no new timetable except to say that the information would be available within four weeks.

The flagship A380 is already a year behind schedule. The programme was delayed for six months last year and for a further six months in the early summer - the latter delay came at a cost of €2bn (£1.4bn). The European plane maker has bet heavily on future demand for super-jumbos to serve the world's increasingly congested major airports.

Customers, investors and employees are now waiting to see by how much further the plane has been delayed and at what cost. Unions have warned that jobs are at risk. Airbus has 13,000 workers in the UK.

Yesterday's statement leaves Airbus customers in a state of confusion as they await reliable delivery schedules, with some airlines saying order cancellations cannot be ruled out. The Dubai-based Emirates, the biggest A380 customer, said this month its 45-plane deal was "up in the air", and Virgin Atlantic has said the delays could affect its orders for six super-jumbos.

The production hitch, caused by wiring problems, is the latest in a series of setbacks for Airbus and EADS, whose shares plunged 26 per cent on 14 June after Airbus announced the delay.