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Company News

AIRSHOW-Airbus sees A380 progress, worried on dollar

* A380 output below par but situation brightening -CEO

* Airbus chief “very concerned” about dollar weakness

* Will take other cost-cutting opportunities if they exist

* Reiterates target for up to 300 plane orders in 2009

DUBAI, Nov 16 (Reuters) - Airbus EAD.PA faces continued production hiccups on its A380 superjumbo but is making progress in ramping up output, Chief Executive Tom Enders said.

In an interview with Reuters Television, he expressed renewed concerns about the weakness of the dollar and said the European planemaker would tap into new ways of driving down costs as opportunities arose.

“There is no secret about it. We are still having production hiccups. Production is not where we want to it to be. We are working very hard on it,” Enders said, asked about Airbus targets for A380 deliveries in 2009 and 2010.

“I think that the picture is brightening up again and we are working hard with airlines to deliver more of these aircraft going forward,” he said.

Enders was speaking in an embargoed interview before Airbus parent EADS issued lower third-quarter earnings. [ID:nLE66576]

Enders repeated concerns about the strength of the euro as the European currency EUR= clings to levels near $1.50.

“We are still very much concerned about the level of weakness in the dollar these days,” Enders said.

Enders is overseeing a “Power8” restructuring plan that assumes a euro at $1.45.

He was asked whether Airbus was looking at expanding Power8 to adjust to a euro above that level on a durable basis.

“Certainly we are looking at all possibilities to decrease costs further and increase profitability. The priority is Power8 and that is a challenging programme and where the focus is. If there are more opportunities we will go for that,” he said.

Enders reiterated an Airbus target for up to 300 commercial plane orders in 2009 and said talks at the Dubai air show suggested there were signs of recovery in the industry.

“The (plane order) target is the target. Let’s see at the end of the year,” he said.

On the industry in general, he said, “We are getting encouraging signs from customers on the numbers they have and forward bookings and that growth is picking up again.”

Enders said he hoped Airbus could strike a crucial deal with buyers on A400M military plane production and costs by end-year and was confident the plane would take to the skies before 2010.

For more news and analysis from the Dubai Airshow, click on [ID:nAIRSHOW]

Reporting by Tim Hepher and Martina Fuchs; Editing by Jon Loades-Carter

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