(Adds CFO quotes)
By Tim Kelly
TOKYO, June 13 Skymark Airlines Inc,
Japan's leading discount carrier, said on Friday it would start
flying the Airbus A380 up to six months later than
planned, due to problems in fitting the interior of the world's
largest passenger jet.
Skymark is the only Japanese airline to have ordered the
European superjumbo. It has said it will buy six A380s.
Finance Director Masakazu Arimori said the sizes of the
interior fittings were slightly off and needed to be redone,
meaning delivery for Airbus to fit them had been delayed.
Arimori blamed the cabin interior supplier, which Skymark
declined to identify.
He estimated a delay of between 2.5 and six months to the
delivery to Skymark of the first aircraft, which had been
expected around the end of the year.
"We could squeeze the parts to fit, but it is a safety
issue. We are in talks with Airbus about getting the work
finished," he said.
A spokeswoman for Airbus declined to comment.
Airbus said in April the airline's first A380 had made its
maiden test flight and would be delivered "later this year".
Word of the delay comes two weeks after Qatar Airways
delayed taking delivery of its first A380 by "several weeks".
Qatar Chief Executive Akbar Al Baker told Reuters he had
asked Airbus to address "issues with the interior of the cabin",
after a pre-delivery customer inspection.
Skymark plans to use its A380s for discount business class
flights overseas starting with New York.
Delays in airliner deliveries can cause disruption and extra
cost for airlines as they reassign aircraft to fill gaps.
Airbus sales chief John Leahy said on Wednesday that Qatar
would receive its first A380 "in the next couple of weeks".
Separately, Airbus said this week it had found signs of
fatigue on fewer than 10 percent of the doors inspected on A380s
after a number of reports of noise and that there was no
immediate safety issue.
On January 4, a Singapore Airlines A380 carrying
494 people made an emergency landing in Baku, Azerbaijan, after
problems with a door seal led to oxygen masks being deployed.
(Additional reporting by Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Jason
Neely and Sophie Walker)