UPDATE 2-Emirates mulls new aircraft, to see A380 delays

Wed Nov 11, 2009 6:21am EST

* President says assessing fleet expansion

* Letter of Intent with Airbus for 60 aircraft "still alive"

* Chairman says could take over other rivals' delayed orders

* H2 revenues to be better than H1

(Adds details, comments, background)

By John Irish and Amran Abocar

DUBAI, Nov 11 (Reuters) - Emirates could buy more aircraft from Airbus EAD.PA and Boeing (BA.N) and might take over orders its rivals are looking to delay, executives said on Wednesday, as the airline prepares for the global recovery.

The Arab world's largest airline, which has $55 billion of orders with the two manufacturers, will see delays in delivery of A380 superjumbos ordered for mid-2010, hitting its route expansion plan, its president also said on Wednesday.

"We are looking at it (buying more planes) ... we are making the assessments, but clearly with the growth we have and the profit we made, there is nothing to suggest after the recession we shouldn't move rapidly," Tim Clark told Reuters by telephone.

Emirates chairman Sheikh Ahmed bin Saeed Al-Maktoum told reporters the airline was considering taking over orders from rivals which might delay taking delivery.

European plane maker Airbus has said it expects a spate of order cancellations and postponements by cash-strapped airlines this winter.

Emirates still had a letter of intent (LoI) with Airbus for 30 A330-300s and 30 A350XWBs, Clark said, but would not make any announcements at the upcoming Dubai Airshow.

"That LoI is still alive and not withdrawn," Clark said.

Clark said the airline's plans would be hit next year by a delivery delay in Airbus's A380. Emirates is the largest customer for the superjumbo, with 58 aircraft on order.

"We should have had 15 by June 2010 ... we are getting two in December and then the remaining 8 between January and November next year, so one or two are being pushed back."

Clark said he hoped Airbus's A380 assembly schedule would be back on track by 2011. "It's affecting what we could have done, but physically they can't get it out," he said.

The carrier's chairman said the delays would be discussed with Airbus at next week's air show in the Gulf Arab emirate.

"We are not happy about it because we want the aircraft to be delivered on time," Sheikh Ahmed said. "That's also part of the discussion that will be going on between the airline and the manufacturer."

He declined to say whether Emirates would seek compensation from Airbus.

Emirates expects to see better revenues in the second half of the year, Sheikh Ahmed said, adding: "Emirates is seeing much better numbers in terms of forward bookings".

First-half revenues fell 13.5 percent but the Dubai-owned carrier bucked the downward trend in aviation with earnings surging 165 percent driven by lower costs.

"We're seeing much better numbers for December and January, in terms of forward booking, that's positive," he said. "We are confident about the market, about the growth."

(Editing by David Cowell)

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