Singapore Airlines to order 20 Boeing 787-9s in latest blow to Airbus's A350 campaign

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By Nicholas Ionides in Singapore

Singapore Airlines (SIA) is preparing to announce a major order for Boeing 787s.

The Star Alliance carrier says in a mobile phone text message to Flight that the formal announcement is currently being prepared. The deal will comprise 20 firm orders for 787-9s and purchase rights for 20 more, the short message service (SMS) continues.

It will represent a serious setback to Airbus, as the European manufacturer had been seeking to sign SIA as a launch customer for the rival A350 for some time.


UPDATED AT 14:00

The Star Alliance carrier says in a statement that it has signed a letter of intent to purchase 20 787-9s and has acquired purchase rights for another 20.

Deliveries are scheduled to take place between 2011 and 2013 and the twinjets will be used for fleet renewal as well as for growth purposes. An engine selection has not been made.

“The decision to purchase the 787-9 is the culmination of an extensive evaluation of the performance characteristics and operating economics promised for the different versions of Boeing’s new 787 aircraft,” says SIA.

“Singapore Airlines plans to deploy the aircraft on routes to North Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.”

The decision to order the 787 comes after a long-running evaluation of the aircraft against the competing Airbus A350. Its decision was repeatedly delayed, in part because of the many changes that were made to the A350 over the course of the campaign.

In April, as SIA was widely believed to be preparing to order 787s, senior Airbus executives asked the carrier to delay placing an expected order for 787s until they were able to present the carrier with full details of a radical revision planned to the A350