- The Washington Times - Friday, October 6, 2006

Excerpts of editorials from newspapers around the world:

The Times

Super-Airbus in works

LONDON — Sometime next year, assuming Airbus engineers can agree on how to install 500 kilometres [310 miles] of copper wire in a single aircraft, an A380 super-jumbo will leave the ground in the colors of Singapore Airlines and a new era of air travel will have dawned. That, at any rate, is how the manufacturer and launch customer will hail the event. But Airbus’s monumental gamble on the biggest passenger aircraft ever built has already brought the company to a moment of truth and may yet bring it to its knees.

Christian Streiff, the new Airbus chief executive, told his most important customers on Oct. 3 what the latest delays in assembling the A380 will mean for them in practice. Emirates, with by far the largest order, will have to wait until 2008 for its first delivery. Other airlines, including Lufthansa and Virgin, will be kept waiting until 2009. All have begun negotiating compensation packages that may include steep discounts on the initially quoted price of $300 million per plane. Even without such discounts, Airbus had won barely half the orders its needs to break even on the project. Boeing’s 787, by contrast, which reflects a radically different vision of the future of air travel, is oversubscribed. The only people entitled to feel more morose over the A380 than Airbus customers are its investors.

… Airbus has agreed to some form of compensation for customers who will now have to lease other wide-bodied jets while waiting for their A380s. The company must also decide whether to seek further subsidies for the A350, its answer to the Boeing 787. If it does, it risks Washington’s wrath, and could jeopardise a multibillion-dollar deal to supply the Pentagon’s next fleet of mid-air refueling tankers. It is time for Airbus to commit itself to the levels of accountability that have kept its chief rival a world leader. To compete with Boeing, Airbus must become more like Boeing.

Yomiuri Shimbun

On North Korea

TOKYO — North Korea’s announcement Tuesday that it will conduct a nuclear test at an undisclosed future date suggests that Pyongyang is further escalating its desperate brinkmanship as the net put up by the international community around it tightens.

A nuclear test by North Korea would pose an extremely serious threat to peace and security in the region. The international community can hardly overlook such a situation.

Using China’s leverage over North Korea will be indispensable to coax Pyongyang back to the six-party talks with the aim of urging it to exercise restraint and pressing it to abandon its nuclear ambitions.

[Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo] Abe plans to visit Beijing on Sunday to meet with Chinese President Hu Jintao and then travel to Seoul on Monday to hold talks with South Korean President Roh Moo-hyun.

The summit meetings will be a good opportunity for Japan to re-establish bilateral relations with the two countries, with which Japan has been unable to hold top-level talks recently. We hope Abe will make every possible effort to take effective and concrete measures to dissuade North Korea from conducting a nuclear test.

The Hindu

U.N. candidate Ban Ki-moon

MADRAS, India — India may have had a horse in the race, but the near-certain election of South Korea’s Ban Ki-moon as the next secretary-general of the United Nations need not occasion any despondency, let alone worry, in New Delhi. In the fourth straw poll held among the 15 members of the Security Council on Monday, Mr. Ban won not just the positive endorsements of 14 member states but also the concurrence of all five veto-wielding permanent members. Belying some predictions of a poor showing, India’s candidate, Shashi Tharoor, performed quite creditably. … With a formal Security Council ballot slated for next Monday and a vote by the General Assembly soon thereafter, Mr. Ban’s appointment to the top job in Turtle Bay is a foregone conclusion. On its part, India can take some comfort from the fact that Mr. Tharoor did better than other candidates, maintaining his second position throughout. …

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