Chris Jasper/LONDON

The Airbus Industrie partners have postponed a crucial meeting that would have granted the airframer authority to offer the A3XX to airline customers, prompting speculation that the project may be in trouble.

Sources close to 20% Airbus owner BAE Systems say next week's meeting of the Airbus supervisory board was cancelled because "the paperwork needed to run the meeting" was not sufficiently in place.

The sources suggest the hitch may not have related solely to the A3XX question and reveal that other issues on the agenda of the project-specific meeting included authorisation to ramp up narrowbody production and a decision to move forward with the planned A330-100. The latter type is due to replace the A300-600/A310 family, but it is known that the development - a simple shrink - is not fully to the liking of some potential customers.

Airbus president Noel Forgeard had been due to report to the board on customer demand for the A3XX. Singapore Airlines last week became the second airline to pledge support for the programme, although doubts remain over funding and demand.

Airbus partner DaimlerChrysler Aerospace (Dasa) says the meeting on 26 May was postponed because "further clarifications are needed", but will not say on what. Dasa says the partners are "absolutely convinced they will launch the A3XX programme some time this year", and that it is "not a question of if it will come, but when".

UK sources say talks on creating a new Airbus Integrated Company are ongoing between BAE and the soon-to-be formed EADS company, encompassing the other Airbus members.

The sources say "tough" issues including financial share and corporate governance remain unresolved, although the A3XX question is not a factor.

Source: Flight International