UAE airline Emirates has scrapped a 2–7 deal valued at $US16billion for 70 A350 planes (50 A350-900s and 20 of the larger A350-1000s). The news hit Airbus and engine manufacturer Rolls Royce hard this week. The planes were due for delivery from 2019.
Emirates was the second biggest buyer of the new plane so the decision has removed nine per cent of A350 orders. Airbus still holds 742 commitments for the aircraft with Qatar Airlines the largest customer and Singapore Airlines is now the second biggest. The A350 has been designed to compete with the 777 and 787.
1. Was Emirates underwhelmed by the A350?
The plane has taken eight years and $15 billion to develop. It was already re engineered after significant criticism from airlines. Emirates CEO Tim Clark has expressed concern at the weight of the plane and the delay in its delivery. The A350 is a two-engined wide-body plane designed to carry between 250 and 350 people in a standard layout or up to 350 in a dense configuration. Its mainly made from lightweight carbon fibre reinforced plastic to reduce fuel consumption. Airbus has been claiming that the operating costs of the A350 should be 25 per cent lower than the current Boeing777 aircraft.
2. Is Emirates planning to standardise its fleet?
It could make sense for Emirates to fly only A380s and 777s? Emirates is the biggest operator of both types already and has large orders in for more. For example, at the 2013 Dubai Air Show, Emirates announced it would buy 150 of the next generation 777 known as the 777X. Plus the airline took out 50 options. The total price tag? $US76 billion
Having only two types of planes make rostering, planning, ticketing and staff training easier.
3. Is Emirates growth slowing?
Some finance experts believe too many airlines have ordered too many aircraft. Nick Cunningham of UK-based Agency Partners said the latest move posed questions including whether Middle Eastern carriers have over-expanded or are expecting lower growth than before.
What do you think?