Airbus notched up firm orders for a further 55 examples of its now-flying A350 XWB airliner yesterday here in Paris, with Air France-KLM and Singapore Airlines signing major deals. The European airframer now has 668 firm orders for the A350. And, for good measure, Airbus also managed yesterday to close a major fleet-upgrade MoU with Sri Lankan Airlines.
Boeing got another big boost for its widebody lineup here yesterday when Korean Air committed to another five 747-8Is and six 777-300ERs worth $3.6 billion at list prices. Also a customer for the Airbus A380, Korean has now signaled its intention to place a second order for the superjumbo’s competitor, production of which Boeing recently cut from two airplanes to 1.75 per month. Boeing holds firm orders for just 40 Intercontinentals and 65 freighters.
Airbus began the 2,500-hour flight-test program for the A350 XWB when the new long-range widebody took off for the first time at almost exactly 10 a.m. local time in Toulouse, France, on Friday. The eagerly awaited first flight over southwestern France lasted slightly more than four hours and the twinjet, powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, touched down safely back in Toulouse at 2:05 p.m.
Airbus is understandably relieved to have flown the A350 XWB widebody just before the Paris Air Show, but the European manufacturer’s twin-aisle family accounts for only a small proportion of outstanding orders as it prepares to proceed with the new aircraft’s flight-test program. Nevertheless, deliveries of 247 aircraft overall and net orders for 493 new jets by June 1 constitute a “strong start” to 2013 for the European manufacturer, according to marketing senior vice-president Christopher Emerson. Airbus delivered 588 aircraft in 2012 and expects to ship more than 600 this year.
With increasing numbers of Airbus A380s in their fleets, Asian and Middle East airlines are growing impatient to start deploying the super-large widebodies on services to and from India. But the Indian government’s policy of sheltering national carrier Air India from competition is preventing carriers such as Lufthansa, Emirates and Singapore Airlines (SIA) from using aircraft larger than the Boeing 747 under the terms of existing air services agreements.
International Airline Group (IAG) and British Airways have signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) calling for the purchase of 18 Airbus A350-1000s along with options on another 18, Airbus announced Monday.
A plainly visible sign of progress on the Airbus A350 program emerged last week with the installation of the first pair of Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and the new Honeywell HGT1700 auxiliary power unit at the airframer’s production facilities in Toulouse, France.
The Lufthansa supervisory board has loosened its purse strings and approved a series of major fleet additions, led by 100 Airbus A320 family jets. The Lufthansa Group also plans to order a pair of Airbus A380s and six Boeing 777-300ERs, raising the total value of its newly announced acquisitions to $13.1 billion.
Record Airbus deliveries in 2012 proved a big factor in boosting the group revenues of parent EADS by 15 percent last year, and a strengthened U.S. dollar improved the return on sales. But at last week’s EADS annual results press conference, the group characterized 2013 as a critical year in terms of ensuring that the costs associated with both the A380 and A350XWB programs do not drag down profitability any more than they already have done.
Los Angeles-based Air Lease Corporation (ALC) has placed a new firm order for 25 Airbus A350XWBs and converted options on 14 A321neos, the European manufacturer announced on Monday. The A350 contract calls for deliveries of 20 A350-900s and five A350-1000s and raises the total backlog for the new composite-bodied airliner to 617.