Following a commitment announced in May 2005 by US Airways and America West, US Airways Group - the merged entity of the two low-cost carriers - has firmed up their order and signed the contract for 20 Airbus A350 aircraft. The airline has not yet announced its engine selection or seating configuration for the aircraft. US Airways' intention is for the A350 to broaden its international service from both the eastern and western United States. Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2011 and run through 2014.
"When we restructured the airline, we knew we would need a new aircraft to grow with us, and the A350 truly fits the bill," said Doug Parker, chairman, president and chief executive officer of the newly merged US Airways. "As both halves of our heritage include Airbus fleets, we have great confidence in the brand, and look forward to an airplane that meets our needs for range, economy, and comfort, while offering our crews technology with which they are already experienced."
In addition to a single-aisle fleet of some 200 Airbus aircraft, US Airways flies nine A330 widebodies, the pilots of which will need no additional training to transition to the A350. The cockpit commonality between the two aircraft allow pilots of the A330 and A350 to share the same type rating.
"US Airways is our first U.S. airline customer for the A350, and we know they are leading a trend," said Gustav Humbert, President and Chief Executive Officer of Airbus. "We designed the aircraft in direct reaction to airline requests, offering more range and new materials to lighten the load and better the fuel economy. The A350 will be an ideal complement to the existing US Airways fleet."
Orders and commitments for the A350 currently total 155 from eleven customers worldwide. Following a launch of the aircraft programme in October of this year, the first A350 is scheduled to be delivered in 2010. The A350 will seat between 253-300 passengers in three classes, with a range of up to 8,800 nautical miles.
Airbus is a joint EADS company with BAE Systems.