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Airbus Delivers First A380 to Singapore Airlines


Airbus has delivered its new A380 super jumbo jet to its first customer - Singapore Airlines. The delivery is a huge relief to the European plane-maker after a troubled start to the industrial project. Kate Woodsome at VOA's Asia News Center in Hong Kong has more on this and other business stories from Asia.

In a handover ceremony in Toulouse, France last week, Airbus presented Singapore Airlines with the world's largest plane - 18 months later than planned.

Airbus stalled delivery of the A380 after wiring problems spiraled into a financial crisis that toppled the management and led to 10,000 job cuts.

Airbus chief executive officer Thomas Enders thanked Singapore Airlines for its patience.

"For more than a decade, we have appreciated your great cooperation, your support, your confidence in the A380 program and today is our chance to thank you for challenging us and for sharing your ambitious dream, creating the world's largest, most efficient, most comfortable commercial aircraft,"

said Enders.

The first commercial flight from Singapore to Sydney will take off October 25. Full service begins October 28.

Singapore Airlines' Silkair says it has reduced its services to Burma because of a drop in tourism after last month's bloody military crackdown on pro-democracy protests. Silkair has cut its weekly flights from 14 to 12. It says it will run just 10 flights a week starting next month.

In Japan, Nomura Holdings Incorporated, the country's largest securities firm, says it will leave the U.S. market for residential mortgage-backed securities due to losses suffered in the sub-prime mortgage crisis. It plans to cut more than 400 jobs, 30 percent of its U.S. workforce.

French food giant Groupe Danone SA says it is selling its entire 20 percent stake in Shanghai-based Bright Dairy and Food for $127 million. Danone plans to sell its 104 million shares to Shanghai Milk Group and to S.I. Food Products Holdings Limited. No reason was given.

Danone also has joint ventures with China's biggest milk producer, China Mengniu Dairy Company, and a troubled partnership with Chinese beverage maker Wahaha Group.

A new study by the U.S. investment bank Merrill Lynch and the professional services group Capgemini shows the number of U.S. dollar millionaires in the Asia-Pacific region has grown by 8.6 percent to 2.6 million people this year.

More than 70 percent of them live in China and Japan. The number of millionaires rose 21 percent in Singapore, more than 20 percent in India and 16 percent in Indonesia.

In Macau, casino gambling revenue has surged in the third quarter to $2.5 billion. That brings total gambling revenue this year to $7 billion.

Macau's Gaming and Inspection and Coordination Bureau says that is 47 percent higher than earnings from the same period last year, and bigger than gambling revenues for all of 2006.

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