Hawaiian Air swap takes Airbus A330neo orders over 100

Fri Dec 19, 2014 5:36am EST
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PARIS (Reuters) - Hawaiian Airlines has confirmed an order for six Airbus (AIR.PA: Quote) A330-800neo aircraft worth $1.5 billion at list prices, swapping them for a previous A350 order, the planemaker said on Friday.

The order for a revamped version of the A330, with new Rolls-Royce (RR.L: Quote) engines, brings to just over 100 the number of firm orders for the A330neo, a reworked version of Airbus's most-sold wide-body jet which was launched earlier this year.

The A330neo is Airbus's alternative for the 250-300 seat market after sales of the smallest version of the new A350 aircraft family, the A350-800, proved disappointing.

Hawaiian's new order replaces an order for six A350-800s, which would be worth $1.6 billion at today's list prices.

Hawaiian's agreement to switch products is one of the determining factors in deciding whether Airbus can scrap the 270-seat A350-800 to focus on stronger-selling larger types of the new jet, the first of which will be delivered on Monday.

Development of the A350-800 has been put on the back burner, but the fate of a total of 26 orders from Russia's Aeroflot (AFLT.MM: Quote), South Korean carrier Asiana Airlines (020560.KS: Quote) and Yemen's Yemenia must still be settled before Airbus can officially halt the smallest A350 variant.

Because of recent improvements in the 20-year-old airframe and new engines, Airbus says the A330neo will be as efficient as the more modern 787 Dreamliner. Boeing (BA.N: Quote) disputes this and points to far greater sales of its carbon-composite jet.

Airbus is awaiting confirmation of a total of 56 provisional A330neo orders from lessors Air Lease Corp (AL.N: Quote) and Avolon AVOL.N, Russian airline Transaero TAER.MM and an unidentified Asian customer.

It is said to be struggling, however, to find buyers for the existing version of A330, prompting it to predict last week it would have to cut production rates again in 2016 while hoping to recover when the re-engined A330neo comes on line.   Continued...

Airbus's company logo is pictured at the Airbus headquarters in Toulouse, December 4, 2014.  REUTERS/ Regis Duvignau