Etihad orders 87 Airbus aircraft

Etihad Airways, of the United Arab Emirates, has announced a firm order on European airframer Airbus S.A.S. for 50 A350 XWBs, 36 A320neo aircraft and one A330-200F freighter worth $26.9 billion at list prices.

The contract was signed yesterday at the 2013 Dubai Airshow by James Hogan, Etihad Airways CEO and Fabrice Brégier, Airbus President and CEO.

The Airbus A350 XWB order will be equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines and deliveries will commence in 2020. The 26 A321neo and 10 A320neo aircraft are scheduled for delivery from 2018, while the A330-200F will arrive in 2017. The neos will be powered by CFM LEAP-1A engines.

Etihad currently operates a fleet of 23 A320 Family aircraft, 25 A330s and 11 A340s.

James Hogan, President and Chief Executive Officer of Etihad Airways,

“Ten years ago this month, we celebrated our inaugural flight from Abu Dhabi using an Airbus A330. A decade later, we have grown into one of the world’s leading airlines and the importance of Airbus to our fast-growing operations has never been stronger. We have more than 60 Airbus aircraft in our fleet today, and this latest order is testament to the continued strength of our partnership. As one of the first airlines set to receive the much-awaited Airbus A350-1000, we look forward to benefiting from its operational efficiencies and cost savings.”

The A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) is an all-new “mini jumbo” long range product line comprising three versions, the A350-800, A350-900, A350-1000. In a typical two-class configuration, the A350-900 can seat 315 passengers and the A350-1000 seats 369 passengers. The aircraft will offer the range for Etihad to expand its network around the world. On the same day as it ordered the A350, Etihad also ordered its biggest competition the Boeing 777-9X and 777-8X which can seat 400+ and 350 passengers respectively.

In comparison to the Boeing aircraft, which Etihad is expected to fit with 17 inch width economy class seats, the A350 fuselage cross-section is optimized to accommodate Airbus’ 18-inch economy seat-width for long range passenger comfort. Etihad’s new order is expected to commence delivery in 2020, the same time as the Boeing 777-9X.

The A320neo is offered as an option for the A320 Family and incorporates new more efficient engines and large “Sharklet” wing tip devices, which together will deliver up to 15 percent in fuel savings. At the end of October 2013, firm orders for the NEO stood at 2,487 from 44 customers, making it the fastest selling commercial airliner ever.

The A330-200F is the freighter version of the A330. It can carry 70 tonnes of payload with a range capability of up to 4,000nm.

About Devesh Agarwal

A electronics and automotive product management, marketing and branding expert, he was awarded a silver medal at the Lockheed Martin innovation competition 2010. He is ranked 6th on Mashable's list of aviation pros on Twitter and in addition to Bangalore Aviation, he has contributed to leading publications like Aviation Week, Conde Nast Traveller India, The Economic Times, and The Mint (a Wall Street Journal content partner). He remains a frequent flier and shares the good, the bad, and the ugly about the Indian aviation industry without fear or favour.

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