Aer Lingus defers A350s and A330s to ease long-haul pain

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Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus is to defer delivery of its first two Airbus A350s and three A330s, and return other leased A330s early, in order to ease its long-haul capacity pressure.

Aer Lingus ordered six A330-300s and six A350s in 2007. It has taken delivery of two of the A330s, with four still on order.

While Aer Lingus will take its third A330 in April next year, it has agreed with Airbus to postpone the other three.

Deliveries would originally have been completed in 2011. But two A330s will be deferred to the third and fourth quarters of 2013, while the last will not arrive until the first quarter of 2014.

All three of the deferred A330s could also be converted to A350s and delivered later.

Aer Lingus' original six A350-900s had been scheduled to arrive from 2014. But the first two A350s have been rescheduled for delivery in the first half of 2015.

Two more A350s will follow in the second half of 2015 and the last pair will arrive in the first half of 2016.

The carrier currently has six A330-300s and three A330-200s but it has agreed to return two leased A330s early - one in October, 18 months ahead of schedule, and a second in March 2010, 14 months ahead.

Introduction of the third new A330 in April 2010 will give it a fleet of eight long-haul aircraft. Seven will be used for long-haul operations while the other will be made available for its Madrid-Washington joint venture with United Airlines.

Aer Lingus says the agreement with Airbus will "stabilise" its fleet at eight jets until 2013 and "significantly reduce" capital commitment for the next three years. It adds that it has negotiated the revised schedule at "no additional cost" to the company.