Airbus' Tangled Wires

The giant A380 can fly. But trying to put it together has nearly taken the consortium apart

Christian Charisius - Reuters/Corbis

The Airbus A380, the world's largest double-decker passenger jet, can travel 14,800 kilometers without the need to refuel.

What a difference four years make. In 2003, Airbus outsold its archrival Boeing for the first time, sparking a mood of triumphalism for those who saw the four-nation consortium as a model of European industrial cooperation. Today Airbus workers are demonstrating, and financial losses are mounting as a result of disastrous snafus that have delayed its flagship new plane. Cooperation? Major private shareholders of parent company EADS can't dump their shares fast enough. And to complicate matters, jousting among its government shareholders--exacerbated by the French presidential elections--is casting doubt on a restructuring plan that includes 10,000 job cuts across Europe,...

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