(Adds Emirates president comment in fifth paragraph)
By James Cordahi
DUBAI, Oct 31 (Reuters) - Emirates, the largest Arab airline, has cancelled an order for as many as 20 long-range Airbus A340-600 aircraft, ending a delay in the delivery of the aircraft pending enhancements.
“We will not be taking delivery of these planes,” Emirates spokesman Mike Simon said late on Monday, declining to explain why.
Dubai-based Emirates ordered 12 of the four-engine planes and options for eight more in 2003 for delivery in May.
Emirates delayed the delivery in March after Airbus proposed making an enhanced version of the high-gross-weight variant of the plane. Emirates President Tim Clark said at the time the airline did not want take delivery of an aircraft that would overtaken by a better model.
The Dubai government-owned carrier is also reviewing its order for 43 of Airbus’s new A380, 555-seat aircraft after a delivery delay of almost two years.
Emirates has been a vocal critic of Airbus, which is running behind schedule after encountering problems in installing wiring in the A380 planes.
Airlines angered by the delay have demanded late-delivery fees from Airbus to cover the cost of leasing other aircraft while they wait and some have threatened to cancel their orders.
Emirates leased five Boeing Co. (BA.N) 777 planes for as long as 15 years and might lease another two to plug the gap in delivery of the A380s, Simon said.
Emirates will take delivery of its first A380 in August 2008 rather than the initially scheduled October 2006. The airline had expected to have 18 of the planes by August 2008.