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Airbus in talks over sole remaining A350-800 order

Airbus is in negotiations with Asiana Airlines over the carrier's firm commitment for eight A350-800s, the sole remaining order for the smallest variant of the new widebody family.

The airframer has seen a steady erosion of the backlog for the Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-powered twinjet, with that process accelerating since the launch of the A330neo.

And Russian carrier Aeroflot's decision in 2016 to cancel its outstanding orders for eight of the type has left Asiana as the only customer for the -800.

Airbus executive vice-president of programmes Didier Evrard, speaking at a ceremony in Toulouse on 24 April to mark the first delivery of Asiana's maiden A350-900, said it was attempting to come to an agreement with the airline.

"We are trying to discuss with the customer [Asiana] what is the best solution to fulfil the requirements of the -800."

Options include adding to the South Korean carrier's existing backlog of 12 -900s or converting the order to the A330neo, Evrard says; for now the A350-800 is "on hold", he adds.

Asiana also has a firm commitment for 10 A350-1000s and will be "one of the first" airlines to receive the model, he says.

Deliveries of the -1000 to launch customer Qatar Airways are due to commence later this year. At least five examples destined for the Gulf carrier are in advanced stages of final assembly at Airbus's Toulouse facility.

In addition, Evrard hints that it is considering expansion of the current two-model A350 family.

"The A350 family will continue to grow over the years to maintain its position in the long-haul market," he says.

He declines to be drawn on the nature of any further development, but adds: "If the need is there, we will be ready for it."

He sees no immediate requirement for a new model, however: "We will pick up the next wave of replacement."

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