FARNBOROUGH 2008: Etihad switching four test A380s for 10 new-build

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Middle Eastern carrier Etihad Airways’ order for 10 Airbus A380s will not take Airbus through the 200-airframe mark for the type, because the carrier is effectively cancelling its earlier order for four.

Etihad placed an order for four A380s in 2004 and its much-anticipated fleet expansion agreement at the Farnborough air show this week included 10 of the jets.

But while Etihad had originally planned to acquire four of the five test aircraft used by Airbus during A380 development, it has since abandoned this plan and will instead acquire new-build examples.

The ex-test A380s would have been transferred to Etihad with Rolls-Royce Trent 900 engines but the carrier has indicated that it is yet to select a powerplant for the new-build aircraft, giving rival Engine Alliance a chance to snatch the contract.

Engine Alliance president Jim Moravecek says: “They’re going to re-compete these 10 – it’ll be interesting to see if we can turn it around.”

Etihad’s arrangement gives Airbus a net increase of six A380 airframes, confirms chief operating officer for customers John Leahy, and an overall total of 198 firm orders for the type.

Two of the A380 test aircraft will be delivered instead to Emirates. A third is to be reconfigured with a VIP interior for a private customer, while Leahy says Airbus is in “final negotiations” with an unidentified customer for a fourth.

Source: Flightglobal.com's sister premium news site Air Transport Intelligence news