Qantas airbus A380 fleet could now be grounded for weeks

21.11.2010 (Reuters)

Airbus A380s operated by Qantas Airways might be grounded for weeks as Rolls-Royce
plans how to fix an engine problem that forced one of the superjumbos into an
emergency landing, sources said.

The airline has lost about [ £78 million]  a day   “It is a very complex process
and it is still in the early stages,” said an Australian-based source with direct
knowledge of the situation and who asked to remain nameless because they were
not authorised to discuss the issue.

“I expect Rolls and Qantas are still several weeks away from putting together
an action plan and its documentation. I very much doubt whether there is an exact
timeline in place.”

Qantas grounded its fleet of six Airbus A380s, pending an investigation, after
a Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engine failed on November 4. A delay would squeeze the
Australian airline’s capacity as it heads into the busy holiday season.

Shares in British enginemaker Rolls-Royce and Qantas have suffered since the
accident, both falling more than 7%.

Talk of an extended delay came a fortnight after the incident, which has been
followed by a frenzy of media speculation surrounding the cause, cost and long-term
impact, and which has put Rolls-Royce under pressure.

Rolls-Royce said last week the failure was confined to a specific component in
the engine’s turbine, and it would replace the relevant module according to an
agreed programme.

Qantas has lost about 4% to 5% of its seat capacity and about   £78 million  per
day because of the grounding, according to analysts, who said Rolls-Royce will
face compensation claims from other A380 operators, Lufthansa and Singapore Airlines.

Airbus will also seek compensation from Rolls-Royce for any disruption caused
by plans to reassign engines.

“The cost of this (for Rolls-Royce) could affect not only 2010 but also spread
into 2011, as the fixing could take longer and as EADS is asking for compensation,”
said Credit Agricole analyst Antoine Boivin-Champeaux.