The Airbus PR machine has been rather busy, announcing that Taiwan’s China Airlines (CAL) has received board approval to order up to 20 Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered A350-900s; Afriqiyah Airways has signed a firm contract for the purchase of six A350-800s; and Libyan Airlines has inked a firm contract for the purchase of 15 Airbus aircraft, including four A350-800s.
With the exception of CAL – which picked the A350 over the Boeing 787 – there is nothing unexpected in Airbus’ announcements. Afriqiyah and Libyan made initial commitments for A350s at the Paris Air Show in June.
What does bear note, however, is the delivery dates for these aircraft. Of the three carriers, CAL holds the earliest slots, with delivery between 2015 and 2020.
The two Libyan operators won’t start receiving their A350s until 2017! How either airline knows what its lift requirements will be in ten years is beyond me. It seems akin to selecting your child's first car - a decade before he or she turns 16. But such is the predicament that future A350 customers must consider.
Airbus chief salesman John Leahy recently said Airbus’ production lines are now sold out for several years, with the next A350 slots available in 2017.