posted on 09/05/2012: 723 views
European planemaker Airbus yesterday said Etihad Airways has cancelled orders for seven A350-1000 aircraft worth US$2.2 billion in list prices, halving its order for the aircraft type to 12.
It's the second batch of A350s that the Abu Dhabi carrier has cancelled following cancellation of six A350-1000s last December from its original order of 25 placed in July 2008. The airline then became the first to cancel A350-1000 orders.
An Airbus spokesperson confirmed the move in an emailed statement. Airbus, however, did not divulge the reasons for the cancellation, saying it is a "customer matter".
Etihad Airways did not respond to queries by Gulf News at the time of going to press.
In an attempt to overhaul the design last year, Airbus pushed back the development of the stretched A350-1000 by two years. The jet, currently priced at US$320.6 million at list prices, is now due to enter service in mid-2017.
The delay and design issues have upset the other two Gulf customers.
Qatar Airways, the launch customer and biggest A350 buyer in the region with 80 on order for the three variants, threatened to scrap its orders owing to design issues.
The delay forced Emirates, with 20 A350-1000s and 50 A350-900s on order, to order additional 777s from Boeing last November.
Airbus chief executive Tom Enders in January indicated there may be short-term issues regarding discussions with A350-1000 customers.
"The Boeing 777 is operationally very robust and operators like it for its reliability and durability."
"Boeing's announcement that it was revamping and renewing it has caught Airbus on the hop and the A350-1000 proposal has been met with a fair amount of cynicism, probably rightly," said aviation analyst Andrew Charlton of Aviation Advocacy.
Echoing similar thoughts is another analyst, Saj Ahmad of Strategic Aero Research.
"The A350-1000 is on borrowed time," he said, adding that the bigger the 777-300ER fleets become, the harder it becomes for Airbus to try to displace them.
"Etihad Airways is poised to walk away from the balance it holds," said Ahmad.
Airbus said yesterday in a statement it has delivered 183 aircraft so far this year, including 112 A320 single-aisle jets.
It has won net orders for 95 airliners and has incurred 17 cancellations, mainly for the A350. – Gulf News
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