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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

First A380 is 'Worth The Wait'

TOULOUSE, France -- Airbus finally delivered its first A380 superjumbo jet Monday -- a critical step for the European plane maker in its efforts to rebound from a string of troubles.

Singapore Airlines took delivery of the double-decker jet, the world's largest passenger plane, almost two years late.

"Until now, the A380 has been Airbus' baby. Today we are here to celebrate this beautiful, mature aircraft coming of age," Airbus president Thomas Enders said at a handover ceremony that included a sound and light show.

Acknowledging the plane maker's difficulties, he told Airbus employees, "I realize how unsettling these last times, particularly the last 18 months, have been."

He thanked customers for sticking with the aircraft and said increasing production to meet demand for the A380 "remains our greatest challenge for the next few years."

Singapore Airlines chief executive Chew Choon Seng said the A380 "is well worth the wait."

Airbus has gone though five CEOs as multiple delays in the A380 program resulted in massive write-offs and a restructuring plan that foresees 10,000 job cuts over four years -- not to mention billions of dollars in lost profit.

Such delays have hurt more than just profits: Airbus' reputation has suffered, and U.S. rival Boeing grabbed the top sales spot in 2006. But Boeing itself announced a six-month delay this week to its hot-selling 787 Dreamliner, leaving the double-decker A380 -- at least temporarily -- to claim the limelight.

Morale at Airbus has also been hurt by accusations that senior managers profited from knowledge about the A380's problems to cash in on share options. A preliminary report by the French Financial Markets Authority pointed to "massive insider trading" at European Aeronautic Defense and Space Co., Airbus' parent company.

Attended by around 500 guests, the handover ceremony was, however, much more low key than the triumphal 2005 ceremony when the A380 was unveiled. Then, the 10,000-strong audience included French, German and British leaders who admired the plane's exterior but were not allowed inside, where problems lurked.