Airbus military plane clients maintain delay penalties: source

 

The representatives of seven countries buying Airbus's troubled A400M military plane told the aviation giant Thursday they would maintain penalties over delivery delays after a meeting in Madrid, a source at the talks said.

The A400M was commissioned jointly in 2003 by the governments of Germany, Belgium, France, Britain, Luxembourg, Spain and Turkey, but since a delayed launch in 2013 it has run into difficulty, with behind-schedule deliveries of the plane.

Last month, Airbus CEO Tom Enders told reporters that the group would ask clients to refrain from imposing further penalties over delivery delays as the firm's 2016 profits nosedived due to charges related to problems with the transport plane.

Spain then invited Airbus and defence officials from the seven client nations for a meeting in Madrid, which took place on Thursday.

Airbus was represented by Dirk Hoke, the head of its defence and space division.

"The clients were firm towards Airbus," a meeting source who refused to be named told AFP.

"They maintained the penalties... and asked that Airbus honour its commitments."

Originally planned for 2011, the plane's launch was delayed by two years.

The A400M's delivery has also run into substantial delays due to a string of technical problems and different requests from the governments.

An A400M plane crashed during a test in May 2015 near Seville in Spain, killing four of the six people on board and seriously injuring the two others.

And new faults were discovered in the propellor engines last year.

Last month when the group announced its results, Enders said that Airbus needed "the cooperation of clients... to push the programme forward and end the haemorrhaging."

At the time, the Spanish defence ministry said Enders had "surprised the seven partner countries with declarations to the media about difficulties encountered in the development of the programme".

The German government, the main customer for Airbus military aircraft, has also urged the firm to live up to its contractual obligations and deliver the promised A400M planes.

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