Airbus will not market its regional concept for the A350-900 as a distinctive product but simply offer the option to tailor the basic aircraft to specific high-density short routes.
Etihad Airways is ordering 40 A350-900s of which 24, it says, will be configured for regional operations. Singapore Airlines has also revealed that it similarly plans to adapt some of its -900s.
But Airbus senior vice-president and head of marketing Chris Emerson says the aircraft will not carry a separate branding.
“It’s regional with a lower-case ‘r’,” he says.
Airbus projects that the -900 can be configured to transport around 360 passengers with specific interior changes.
These include removing the galley – allowing another three rows of seats – as well as the crew rest, both of which are unnecessary for short routes. Emerson says the premium cabin will be “tighter”, because lie-flat seats will not be needed.
The Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines will be de-rated and the maximum take-off weight restricted to around 250t.
Airbus chief operating officer for customers John Leahy says the changes will attract interest from customers who do not need the full range of the -900, some 7,750nm, but want to accommodate loads greater than its baseline 315 passengers.