Airbus set to launch A350-1000ULR
As many of the world’s airlines begin to reap the financial and environmental rewards of introducing lighter, more fuel-efficient aircraft made up of carbon-fibre composites, such as the Airbus A350 XWB — a relatively low oil price and continuing strong demand from international passengers is helping drive the growth of ultra-long-haul flying.
Airbus, the European manufacturer of the existing A350-900ULR, a variant of flagship A350 XWB that already caters to the ultra-long-haul market, is in final talks with multiple airline customers ahead of a formal launch of the A350-1000ULR, an ultra-long-range variant of the largest member of the A350 XWB family, this correspondent can exclusively reveal.
Airbus’ commitment to building an ultra-long-range ‘family’ follows extensive talks with a variety of airline customers, many of whom have shown interest in potentially ordering, or converting existing A350 orders to an A350-1000ULR that will be able to fly further, and heavier than the existing A350-900ULR — with, crucially: more passengers. The A350-1000ULR will also take on Boeing’s 777X, and Airbus intend to have the aircraft available to airline customers before the 777X is able to gain a significant hold of the extreme end of the long-haul market.
Alan Joyce, the Qantas CEO, put Airbus and Boeing to the test by asking the two manufacturers to develop an aircraft capable of flying for 21-hours, such as between London and Sydney. The Australian flag carrier is considering both the Airbus A350-1000ULR (Ultra Long Range) and the Boeing 777-8, and the decision will be announced in quarter-four of 2019, Joyce recently confirmed. Qantas has already eliminated the prospect of ordering the existing A350-900ULR, citing lower passenger capacity.
Singapore Airlines was the launch customer of the A350-900ULR, which is capable of flying up to 9,700 nautical miles, or around 20 hours non-stop, depending on the onboard seating capacity.—Reuters