Tunisair appears to cancel A350-800 order

Toulouse
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Tunisair appears to be the latest carrier to abandon the Airbus A350-800, bringing the backlog for the type to fewer than 90 aircraft.

The flag-carrier had ordered three of the type in July 2008, along with three A330s and 10 A320s.

But Airbus's order figures to the end of May no longer list the Tunisair A350s. While several A350-800 customers have converted to larger variants of the A350, the Airbus data indicates that the airline has cancelled outright.

The change takes the -800's backlog down to 89 aircraft, but Airbus insists that the variant will remain part of the A350 family.

Tunisair has yet to confirm its apparent decision and clarify its reasons. The airline recently put a group of older aircraft, including three A300s, up for sale. Its A330 order remains on the airframer's books.

The amendment effectively offsets the only order Airbus recorded in May, for three EasyJet A320s, and leaves the net order figure for 2013 unchanged at 493.

Several aerospace firms have established operations in Tunisia and, despite the country's political unrest sparking sweeping revolutions in other Arab states in 2011, it escaped relatively unscathed.

But Airbus executive vice-president for programmes Tom Williams noted, during a briefing in Toulouse on 5 June, that Airbus had encountered problems with suppliers which were trying to source components from Tunisia.

He says that, in some cases, the airframer had to take "extraordinary actions" to avoid disturbance in its production line, and "repatriate" components back into Europe.