13 October 2013

Delivery plan for first customers of the A350-900 in 2015 being adjusted.

First 4 deliveries will be for Qatar Airways, launch customer. But for the rest of the customers, an arrangement is being negotiated at Airbus. Finnair and Vietnam Airlines are involved with others.

Finnair, the launch company in Europe, said it would receive the first aircraft only in the second half of 2015 owing to production delays.

"We have 11 in firm orders but now 8 options instead of 4 options," said Kati Ihamaki, Finnair's vice president for sustainable development. "The problem is the first delivery will be not in the beginning of 2015 but in the second part of 2015 because (of) delays of production," she said on the sidelines of a news conference in Paris.

Ihamaki said Finnair originally expected the first aircraft already at the end of 2014, and while it understood the delay in the delivery of the new aircraft, the airline was eager to introduce them into its fleet as they were key for its Asian development strategy.

Airbus said, however, that there has not been any change in its delivery schedule for Finnair for two years. “There are no new delays in the project and that the first aircraft would be delivered to Qatar Airways in the second half of 2014 as currently foreseen.”

Vietnam Airlines has 12 A350-900 on order and they expect to receive the first A350 in 2016 under the contract to buy 10 aircraft of this type that its general director Pham Ngoc Minh signed with Airbus in Hanoi in December 2007. Later, at the Paris Air Show in June 2009, Vietnam Airlines signed a Memorandum of Understanding with Airbus for 2 additional A350-900.

Vietnam Airlines CEO said that they plan to use its 16 787-9s and 12 A350-900s on similar missions but the carrier needs to acquire both types because neither manufacturer has enough slots to meet the carrier's requirement for 55 to 60 widebodies by 2020.

"With manufacturers it's sometimes difficult for me to push them, especially for next-generation because for next-generation they have certain difficulties. But the market is there and we have an ambitious plan," Minh says. "We can't wait. We have to add more A330s and maybe more 777s until the time we can replace all of it."

He says Vietnam is trying to speak to Boeing about moving up to earlier 787-9 slots but so far it has been difficult to get a firm plan from the manufacturer. "They've delayed six times already. I don't know how many more times they will delay," he says.

He adds Vietnam Airlines is looking to expand its Boeing 777-200 and Airbus A330 fleets to fill the gap caused by the extensive delivery delays to its 787s. They are also negotiating with Airbus to advance as much as possible their deliveries, and this could require re-arrangements on the delivery plan.

Based on the article “Lightweight Airbus A350 due later than expected” published in AFP and on the article “Vietnam Airlines switches 787 order to -9s” published in FlightGlobal.

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