Cathay To Buy Fleet Of Airbus A350s
Aviation news: Cathay Pacific's order gives Airbus boost in Asian market
Airbus' quest to attack Boeing in the market for big wide-body aircraft has received a boost from Cathay Pacific's pledge to buy a fleet of A350s, strengthening the European aircraft maker's Asian foothold.
Cathay, the largest airline in Hong Kong and a rival to Singapore Airlines, signed a letter of intent to buy 30 of the long-range aircraft.
That matches Asiana Airlines' order to be the region's largest deal for the jet. Singapore has ordered 20 A350s, which has a list price of about $US225 million ($245.7 million).
Airbus has won 535 firm orders from 33 customers for the plane, making it the French-based manufacturer's fastest-selling model.
The company is working to maintain its schedule for first deliveries in July 2013, after the A380 suffered years of delay. Boeing is also behind schedule with its 787 Dreamliner.
''Getting a commitment from Cathay is really positive in terms of showing confidence in the plane,'' said an analyst at Oddo Securities in Paris, Yan Derocles.
Airbus's research forecasts that in the next two decades airlines in the Asia-Pacific region will buy 31 per cent of all new commercial aircraft seating more than 100 passengers - more than either US or European carriers.
Asia is the second-largest market behind Europe for Airbus's A330 and A340 wide-body planes.
The accord with Cathay may help sales in China, where airlines will take delivery of about a quarter of all the aircraft Airbus builds in the next five years, according to the European Aeronautic Defence and Space Company, which owns Airbus.
''This is a big win for Airbus and the A350,'' said John Leahy, the company's chief operating officer. ''The major Chinese airlines watch Cathay very closely, as well they should.''
The European company plans to introduce the jet with the A350-900, the model Cathay bought. That plane, seating 300, will be followed by the smaller A350-800 in 2014. A larger A350-1000, seating 350, is scheduled for 2015.
Among the biggest buyers of the A350 have been Emirates, with an order for 70, Qatar Airways (80) and Etihad (25). All three are in the Middle East, marking more competition for Asian and European airlines.