Aeroflot, Qatar Deals Would Mean 100+ New Orders
Despite the seeming disadvantage of ceding a five-year head
start to its Boeing rival in the marketplace, don't count out
Airbus' A350XWB just yet... as news surfaced Thursday the European
planemaker may soon land two large orders for a combined 102
In an announcement that could be considered a blow to Boeing --
and the US -- Aeroflot says it had decided to acquire 22 A350
widebody jets to replenish its aging fleet. The order comes while
Boeing is struggling for a foothold in Russia.
Aeroflot originally intended to place the order with Boeing, for
its 787 Dreamliner, and had even placed a deposit. That order
apparently fell victim to deteriorating relations between the
Kremlin and the White House.
Russian President Vladimir Putin has accused Washington of
attempting to dominate the world. Understandably, this produced a
chill in relations between the two countries... and put pressure on
Aeroflot to cut off ties with Boeing.
The original agreement between Aeroflot and Boeing expired in
September 2006. A private shareholder group then stepped in to keep
the purchase option, reportedly worth $40 million, alive until the
end of that year, with some help from a private shareholder group.
But that deadline lapsed, as well.
In February, Boeing officials said they considered the order
"dead in the water" -- essentially handing the deal to
Airbus. Aeroflot officials confirmed Thursday the
carrier has all-but-given up on ordering Dreamliners.
"Talks (with Boeing) are frozen," said Aeroflot spokeswoman
Irina Dannenberg. In a separate interview, Aeroflot CEO Valery
Okulov told the Interfax News Agency, "It's hard to estimate by
what degree... are prospects for unfreezing it."
Dannenberg told The
Associated Press Aeroflot now plans to sign a contract with Airbus
for 10 to 15 A330 widebodies as part of a major fleet upgrade with
delivery in the latter part of 2008, as part of an "operating
The A330s will sub for the carrier's A350s, which would begin
arriving in 2015.
In related news, Qatar Airways confirmed its participation in
talks with Airbus to purchase 80 A350s.
The carrier now operates a fleet of 53 Airbus aircraft, and said
it was interested in three variants of the aircraft and hoped to
confirm new orders soon, according to an e-mailed statement to the
Qatar Airways spokeswoman Sigrid Rath said the carrier announced
two years ago its plan to buy 60 A350s, but now desires the
additional 20 aircraft to service medium- and long-haul routes.