Airbus delivers first A350, rules out cancelling A380 project

Mon Dec 22, 2014 11:35am EST
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TOULOUSE, France (Reuters) - European planemaker Airbus delivered its first A350 mid-sized jetliner to Qatar Airways on Monday and moved to end speculation about the future of its larger A380 superjumbo.

Airbus said it was on course to reach its production goals for the A350, a mid-sized jet designed to compete with the twin-engined Boeing 787 and 777 models.

Delivery of the A350 came 10 days later than originally planned after Qatar Airways had last-minute problems with one of the suppliers of "buyer furnished equipment" - items like seats and galleys that the airline buys directly from third parties.

The arrival of Airbus's newest jet, developed at a cost of 11 billion euros ($13.48 billion), brings the European planemaker face to face in the world's airports with Boeing's 787, as a new generation of carbon-composite passenger jets offers 25 percent fuel savings.

But its development has coincided with a decline in the sales of large four-engine jets like the Boeing 747 and Airbus's A380, the world's largest airliner with 525 seats.

Airbus Group Finance Director Harald Wilhelm triggered speculation over the future of the A380 earlier this month when he said it would break even through 2018, whether Airbus decided to upgrade or "discontinue" it.

Chief Executive Fabrice Bregier said the A380 needed a boost in sales but ruled out cancelling it as the jet was about to break even.

"The trend is in favor of the A380 and in this context the fact that we would have in mind internally at Airbus or Airbus Group that we would stop the A380 is just crazy," Bregier said at an A350 delivery ceremony.

"After all the efforts we have made - we are about to break even next year - we are about to be successful with this program ... so we will continue."   Continued...

An Airbus A350 XWB is pictured on the tarmac during the first delivery of this new passenger jet at Qatar Airways in Toulouse, southwestern France, December 22, 2014. REUTERS/Regis Duvignau