DUBAI: Airbus stands firm over A350-800 plans

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Airbus is adamant that it will pursue the A350-800 although it admits that it would rather obtain as many slots for the larger -900 as it can during the initial production ramp-up.

But the airframer insists that it will not cancel the smallest member of the three-jet family, whose sales backlog has been whittled by a third to 119 aircraft.

Speaking during the Dubai air show, Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy said: "We're definitely not about to drop the -800 despite all the wishful thinking in Seattle."

He pointed out that the -800 will be a "very good" competitor to the 787-9, although the airframer has not resisted a migration by customers from the -800 to the -900.

"It's only during the ramp-up period that you're supply-constrained," said Leahy, pointing out that it would be "more profitable" for Airbus to use early slots to build the larger -900s than -800s.

TAP Portugal became the latest operator to move to the bigger twinjet, transferring its entire order for 12 in October.

Entry into service of the A350-800 has been put back to 2016, two years after the -900, following the recently-disclosed slip in the baseline aircraft's development schedule.