Blow for Airbus as Fedex cancels $2.5bn order

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Airbus, the European plane-maker which has faced a series of production delays on its high-profile A380 superjumbo programme, suffered another blow yesterday when FedEx Express cancelled a roughly $2.5bn ($1.3bn) order and switched to buying from Boeing. FedEx Express, the express package delivery unit of the US shipping company Fed-Ex, became the first customer to terminate an order for Airbus's flagship plane when it scrapped an agreement to buy 10 A380-800F aircraft.

Instead, FedEx ordered 15 Boeing 777 Freighter aircraft and took options to purchase 15 more.

FedEx said it expected to take delivery of four Boeing 777s in 2009, eight in 2010 and the remainder in 2011. At a list price of $232.5m to $240m each, the order will be worth at least $3.48bn to Boeing. The Boeing 777 Freighter, launched in May 2005, is the world's largest twin-engined cargo aircraft.

Airbus and its majority parent, EADS, have been plunged into financial and political crisis after a string of wiring delays on the A380 pushed the plane two years behind schedule.

FedEx's decision cuts the number of outstanding orders for the A380 Freighter to 15 from 25.