British Airways’ parent company, International Airlines Group (IAG), has this week confirmed it is ordering new Airbus A350s for the Group’s long-haul fleet.
The majority of the order will be for British Airways, who have 18 firm orders for Airbus A350-1000s, plus an additional 18 options. This will be in addition to the 18 Boeing 787s which BA previously had planned as options – these will now be made firm orders.
These 36 firm orders will be used to replace 30 of BA’s Boeing 747-400 fleet between 2017 and 2023; the optional orders will be used to replace other aircraft or facilitate further growth.
Deals on orders for Iberia have also been reached that could see the airline order aircraft form both Airbus and Boeing; however, these will only become firm orders when Iberia is in a position from which it can grow profitably.
The new orders are also expected to secure jobs in both Britain and Spain, where sections of the aircraft will be manufactured and assembled. The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, which will power the new A350s, are assembled in Britain, whilst Spanish engineers will work on the horizontal tail plan and lower wing covers. The wings for the aircraft will also be manufactured in the UK.
Willie Walsh, IAG chief executive, made the announcement, citing the many benefits the new deals will bring to the group and its customers. Walsh said: “The A350-1000 will bring many benefits to our fleet. Its size and range will be an excellent fit for our existing network and, with lower unit costs, there is an opportunity to operate a new range of destinations profitably. This will not only bring greater flexibility to our network but also more choice for our customers. Both aircraft will provide further cost efficiencies and environmental benefits with fuel cost per seat improvements of more than 20 per cent. This order will also secure jobs in Britain and Spain.”
The orders will need the go ahead of the IAG shareholders, but are expected to be approved.