Emirates Airline looks set to defer deliveries of its Airbus A340-600s which are due to start by the middle of next year, as it waits for the manufacturer to clarify its plans for an enhanced version of the aircraft.
Picture: Airbus France
Emirates is due to be one of the early operators of the Rolls-Royce Trent 500-powered A340-600 high gross weight (HGW) variant, which is currently in flight testing in Toulouse (pictured above). However the airline is concerned that if the manufacturer’s proposals to introduce a major upgrade to the aircraft – dubbed A340-600 Enhanced – come to fruition it would effectively render the current model obsolete. Flight International published exclusive artist's impressions of the A340 Enhanced last November.
“Our order is still intact, but we’ve said to Airbus ‘let’s agree to defer until you know what you are going to do with the enhanced model’,” says Emirates president Tim Clark.
“We’ve told Airbus that we don’t want to take the [-600HGW] and then be leapfrogged by something that is a bit better,” he adds.
Although the airframer shows the Emirates A340 deal in its backlog as an order for 20 aircraft, Clark says that contract actually comprises 12 firm orders and eight options. He adds that the first aircraft is due to arrive in “around 16 months” but at this point the two parties have just a verbal agreement to discuss a deferral of the order.MAX KINGSLEY-JONES / LONDON