Airbus has signaled that it could drop the A350-800, the smallest member of the new family. Acknowledging that currently “a market is here and we will do it,” product marketing head Sophie Pendaries said that in the past six years demand has “shifted to larger aircraft.” In 2007 industry order backlogs covered almost 1,000 airliners with capacity for 250 passengers (Boeing 787-8s, Airbus A330-200s and A350-800s) but only about 400 aircraft with 300 seats (A330-300s, A350-900s and 787-9s and -10s).
By last month [October], however, orders for 250-seaters had declined by just over 400 while bookings for 300-passenger designs had grown by more than 660 units. “We took 300 seats as the basis for the A350 and now all airlines want [that number], so it was the right decision,” said Pendaries.
A350 executive v-p and program head Didier Evrard indirectly addressed the subject when asked about the manufacturer’s ability to mix A350-900 and -1000 production. “Our order book is [roughly] 500 A350-900s and 200 A350-1000s, about [the ratio] we assumed at the beginning. Now, the trend of converting -800 [orders] to -900s and -900s to -1000s might (and will, I think, probably) rebalance.”
On the possibly of dropping the smaller A350-800, Pendaries said: “We have orders and we have customers and we are talking with them. As long as there is interest we will develop it. [There is no] issue, it’s not complicated. We will develop [the -800] if there is a market.”