After a thorough selection process, International Airline Group (IAG), and British Airways have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to buy 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft plus 18 options, as part of the airline’s on-going long-haul aircraft fleet renewal and modernisation strategy.
IAG, owner of both British Airways and Iberia, has also secured commercial terms and delivery slots that could lead to firm orders for Iberia. Firm orders will only be made when Iberia is in a position to grow profitably, having restructured and reduced its cost base.
The choice of the A350-1000 follows British Airways’ decision in 2007 to buy 12 Airbus A380s, the first of which will be delivered this summer. Operating the A380 and A350 together delivers real value to the world’s leading airlines because it allows them to match aircraft capacity to traffic demand on any route.
“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 customer,” said Willie Walsh, IAG Chief Executive.
Across all its aircraft families Airbus’ unique approach ensures that aircraft share the highest commonality in airframes, on-board systems, cockpits and handling characteristics. This reduces significantly operating costs for airlines. In addition, with only minimal additional training, pilots can transition between these aircraft more efficiently.
“This is an important announcement from one of the world’s most respected and influential airline brands,” said John Leahy, Chief Operating Officer, Customers. “The A380 and the A350 are perfectly matched for greener long haul operations and demonstrate environmental leadership. We are simply delighted that British Airways has chosen the A350 to spread its global wings and its iconic livery.”
The A350-1000 is the largest member of the A350 XWB (Xtra Wide-Body) Family seating up to 350 passengers in three classes, with a range capability of 8,400 nautical miles (15,500 km). The A350 XWB Family includes the A350-900 and A350-800 seating 314 and 270 passengers respectively, offering airlines the ability to match the aircraft to their network needs and thereby guaranteeing optimum revenue potential. Compared to its nearest established competitor, the A350 XWB Family reduces fuel burn by 25 per cent.
British Airways currently operates a total of 112 A320 Family aircraft. It is one of the world’s only airlines to operate all members of the A320 Family (A318, A319, A320 and A321). British Airways first became an Airbus operator in 1988, when it began flying A320s. The airline added the A319s to its fleet in 1999 and the A321 in 2004.