Gives Airbus Time To Develop "Enhanced" Airliner
speculation, Emirates, the largest Arab airline, announced Thursday
the carrier will delay its current order for 20 Airbus A340s, in
order to give Airbus time to develop a more efficient version of
the four-engine airliner.
"They're delaying the planes for a few years," John Leahy,
Airbus chief commercial officer, told Bloomberg News Thursday.
As was reported by Aero-News last
week, Emirates stated it was considering dropping its
orders for the A340-600HGW (for "high gross weight") version, in
light of talk Airbus was working on a so-called "Enhanced"
version of the A340 to better compete with Boeing's 777.
Emirates President Tim Clark "deferred the order until the
manufacturer comes back with clearer plans about an enhanced
version of the plane," said an unidentified Emirates
The first of 12 A340s was to be delivered to Emirates in June of
2007, with options for eight more. The total deal was valued at
approximately $4.2 billion.
Airbus will now need to
find a new home for those aircraft. Qatar Airways, which has also
ordered the -600HGW, is believed to be a candidate for the
"If for sure Emirates doesn't want to take the aircraft in a
certain time frame, we will sell the aircraft somewhere else," said
Airbus Chief Executive Gustav Humbert.
In 2005, Boeing sold 129 777s, including all variants; Airbus
sold only 15 A340s.
Emirates' decision also comes soon after Airbus's strategy for
its upcoming widebody airliner, the A350, was questioned this week by the heads of
two major aircraft leasing companies. Boeing's 787
Dreamliner currently has over 100 orders more than its Airbus