[Aviation Today June 11, 2014] Dubai-based Emirates Airlines has cancelled its order for 70 A350 XWB aircraft. The cancellation was announced following ongoing discussions between Airbus and the Middle Eastern state-run carrier regarding a review of their fleet upgrade requirements. In 2007, Emirates placed an order for 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s that were scheduled to begin delivery in 2019.
Emirates' cancellation comes several months before the long-haul aircraft is scheduled to enter service in the fall with Qatar Airways, and will remove 9 percent of the order backlog for the A350. The order was originally worth $16 billion based on the list price of the A350 family in 2007.
“It’s not great news,” John Leahy, chief operating officer for Airbus
said during a press conference at the airframe manufacturer's headquarters in Toulouse.
Emirates is also the biggest customer for the rival to the Airbus A350 XWB, the Boeing
777X which was launched in late 2013. At the Dubai Air Show last year, Emirates committed to purchasing 150 777X aircraft with 50 options for $76 billion.
Several European and Middle Eastern aviation analysts believe the cancellation could indicate Emirates' decision to focus its fleet modernization around the Airbus A380 and the Boeing
777X, or it could also be a sign that Gulf carriers such as Emirates have overestimated their expected future growth in passenger traffic.
U.K.-based aircraft engine manufacturer Rolls-Royce said the cancellation will reduce its order book for the Trent XWB engine, which powers the A350, by 3.5 percent or $4.3 billion.
"While disappointed with this decision, we are confident that the delivery slots which start toward the end of this decade vacated by Emirates will be taken up by other airlines. Demand for the Airbus A350 remains strong, with more than 700 aircraft and 1,400 Trent XWB engines already sold," Rolls Royce said in a statement.