British Airways will add the Airbus A350 to its fleet, with the airline ordering 18 of the next-gen jetliners as part of a continuing upgrade which also includes the Airbus A380 and Boeing787 Dreamliner.
BA has agreed to buy 18 of the largest A350-1000 model, which carries a list price of A$308m per plane, in a deal worth a potential A$5.5bn.
Each jet can cater for up to 350 passengers across business class, premium economy and economy cabins.
Although Airbus expects to debut the A350-900 in the middle of next year, with the smaller A350-800 in mid-2016 and the stretched A350-1000 following in mid-2017.
Like the Boeing 787, the A350 uses mainly composite carbon-fibre rather than metal in an attempt to reduce weight, increase fuel efficiency and also boost passenger-experience attributes such as providing lower cabin pressure, higher humidity and larger windows.
However, the supersized A350-1000 is a closer match to the Boeing 777-300ER which BA already operated and recently introduced on its Sydney-London route.
Other airlines backing the Airbus A350 include launch customer Qatar Airways, which has signed up for 80 aircraft; Emirates Airline, which has inked a deal for 70 planes; and Cathay Pacific's pledge to buy 36 A350s.
BA also has 40 of Boeing's 787 on order, making it one of relatively few airlines in the world to adopt a mixed fleet of both 787s and A350s.
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