Carrier negotiates bargain XWBs from Airbus as part of compensation talks

Finnair expects to conclude shortly negotiations with Airbus centred on compensation for delays to the delivery of its A350 order, and says that it will not have to pay extra for the twinjet despite the fact that the new XWB version is significantly improved over the original design.

The Finnish carrier opted to acquire nine Rolls-Royce Trent-powered A350-900s, with options on four more, at the end of 2005 - a few months before Airbus redesigned the aircraft and unveiled it as the A350 XWB last year.

After adopting the XWB specification, Airbus revealed that it was pushing the catalogue prices up by over 20% because it is a "much more impressive aircraft". The sticker price for the original A350-900 was $171 million, while the XWB version (which has more range than the original design and is 5% bigger) is priced at $215 million.

Finnair immediately restated its commitment to the aircraft when it was relaunched in July last year, although the redesign meant that the delivery date was pushed back by three years to 2014.

Finnair A350
© Airbus   

Finnair will pay "the original price" for its A350s, despite the XWB revamp

However, Finnair does not have the additional powerplant complication that some other original A350 customers are facing, as it specified R-R engines.

Customers that signed for General Electric GEnx-powered aircraft are now having to renegotiate contracts, as that engine is not yet being offered on the revamped A350.

Finnair says that it "will receive the aircraft it ordered at the originally agreed acquisition price". It adds that its negotiations with Airbus are expected to reach an agreement "in the near future on compensation awardable to Finnair for the delay in the A350 production schedule".

The Finnish carrier is one of 11 customers that signed a firm contract for the A350 before the revamp - none of which have yet been migrated to the new version. Airbus has 102 firm A350 orders. Others holding firm contracts including Air Europa, Alafco, CIT, Eurofly, International Lease Finance, Kingfisher Airlines, Pegasus, TAM, TAP Portugal, and US Airways.

Meanwhile, original A350 launch customer Qatar Airways continues to discuss the future of its commitment for 60 aircraft with Airbus.

Airbus vice-president of marketing customer affairs Colin Stuart expects Singapore Airlines to firm up its commitment for 20 A350-900s plus 20 options "within the next couple of months. We're in the process of converting it to an order," he says.


Source: Flight International