United Airlines has become the 33rd customer for the Airbus A350XWB by signing a firm order for 25 A350-900s, formalizing a commitment originally announced in December 2009.
The aircraft will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines. Deliveries of the aircraft will begin in 2016 and will run through 2019.
“This is the latest chapter in a very strong relationship that has spanned two decades,” says John Leahy, Airbus’ chief operating officer – customers. “From the delivery of the first United A320 in November 1993 to today, Airbus and United have worked together successfully to weather challenging market periods. It’s a true testament to what the A350 XWB has to offer that one of the largest airlines in the world has selected it to be an instrumental part of their future.”
“With this order we are investing in United’s future, gaining a widebody aircraft that will help us reduce operating costs while still providing state-of-the-art comfort to our customers,” says John Tague, president of United Airlines. “The A350 XWB will also help us reduce fuel burn and our overall environmental footprint in comparison to older technology aircraft.”
The A350 XWB is a new family of mid-size widebody airliners and is Airbus’ competitive response to the Boeing 787. According to Airbus, the aircraft will bring together the latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide a 25 per cent step-change in fuel efficiency compared to current aircraft in the same size category.
Its airframe will be 53 per cent composed of composite materials, lightening its weight and maximizing fuel economy. It will feature an entirely new, very quiet, cabin with extra space and comfort, offering passengers more headroom, wide panoramic windows and larger overhead storage areas.
The A350-800 will fly 270 passengers (in a three-class configuration) a distance of 8,300 nautical miles. The 314-seat A350-900 and 350-seat A350-1000 will offer similar long-range performance.
The order book for the aircraft type now stands at 530 aircraft. Final assembly of the first aircraft is anticipated in 2011, with the first delivery (of an A350-900) scheduled for 2013.
United Airlines’ order for 25 A350-900s follows hard on the heels of a similar order it placed for Boeing 787s. United confirmed an order for 25 Boeing 787-800s and secured purchase rights on 50 more.