Emirates has dealt a blow to Airbus by cancelling a major order for 70 A350 aircraft.
The Dubai-based carrier placed the order for 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s in 2007, and deliveries of the new twin-aisle jets were due to start in 2019.
But it made the surprise decision to scrap the order following a review of its fleet requirements.
Emirates now appears to be concentrating its wide-body, twin-engined fleet on the Boeing 777, for which it is currently the world’s largest customer. At present, Emirates operates 117 B777s and it has outstanding orders for more than 200 more, including 150 brand new, fuel-efficient B777-X aircraft, which is a direct competitor of the A350.
Airbus’ chief operating officer, John Leahy, admitted that the news was a blow to Airbus, but remained upbeat on the A350 programme, which is due to launch later this year.
“It’s not great news,” Bloomberg reported Leahy as saying at a briefing. “[Emirates president] Tim [Clark] does change his mind from time to time, so maybe we could persuade him later on to change his mind again.”
The A350 is due to enter service with Qatar Airways in the fourth quarter of 2014. And despite the Emirates pull-out, the programme’s order book remains strong. Airbus currently has 742 firm orders for the A350, including major deals with Qatar Airways (80 aircraft), Singapore Airlines (70), Etihad Airways (62), Cathay Pacific (46) and United Airlines (35).
Emirates meanwhile, still has outstanding orders for 92 Airbus A380s, to add to its existing fleet of 48 double-decker jets.