Emirates has cancelled its order for 70 Airbus A350 aircraft as the airline seeks to 'right-size' its fleet.
Placed in 2007, the order for 50 A350-900 and 20 A350-1000 saw deliveries due to commence in 2019.
"The contract which we signed in 2007 for 70 A350 aircraft has lapsed," an Emirates spokesperson told Australian Business Traveller. "We are reviewing our fleet requirements."
John Leahy, Airbus' Chief Operating Office for Customers, admits "it's not the worlds greatest news, but (Emirates President) Tim Clark does change his mind from time to time, and maybe in the next few years he may change back to the A350."
Speaking at the opening of Airbus' annual international media conference in Toulouse, France, Leahy was quick to assure that Emirates' unexpected cancellation of the A350 order "has no impact financially."
"Our first (A350) delivery is five years from now – the first airplanes we're going to deliver from 2019-2023, that’s pretty far out, so maybe I have some time to talk to Tim and he'll reconsider in a couple of years."
"But the A350 program is still in great shape (and) our market position is still in pretty good shape," Leahy added, reporting that Airbus still has 742 orders on the books for the A350.
Leahy says he learned of Emirates A350 cancellation early this morning in Toulouse, although he knew in advance the airline was reviewing its fleet plan – "but Tim is always reviewing his fleet plan."
However, Leahy claims that he has already taken calls from several airlines interested in taking up the A350 orders which Emirates has dropped.
Emirates remains committed to its existing Airbus A380 fleet, whi will stand at 140 strong when all deliveries are completed, although the Gulf carrier is now campaigning for a next-generation A380neo.
Qatar Airways remins on track to take delivery of the first A350 before the end of this year, and with 80 aircraft on the books remains Airbus' largest customer for the jetliner, followed by Singapore Airlines (70 orders), Etihad Airways (62) and Cathay Pacific (46).
Also read: Airbus A350 cabin, seats revealed
Australian Business Traveller is attending the 2014 Airbus Innovation Days media conference in Toulouse as a guest of Airbus.
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About Chris Chamberlin
Chris lives by the motto that a journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step, a great latte, an opera ticket and a glass of wine!