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Farnborough: SIA shocks the air show by ordering 20 Airbus A350s, nine further A380s

By David Kaminski-Morrow in Farnborough

Singapore Airlines has signed a letter of intent to purchase 20 Airbus A350 XWBs and a further nine A380 aircraft.

The carrier’s agreement, revealed at the Farnborough air show, also includes options on another 20 A350s and six further A380s.

Deliveries of the A350s – which will be the -900 version – will begin in 2012 and run to 2014. The additional A380s will be delivered from late 2008 and run to 2010.

No engine selection has been given for either type. The value of the agreement for the 29 firm aircraft is put at $7.5 billion.

SIA revealed last month that it would acquire 20 Boeing 787-9s and placed options on another 20.

The airline is to lease 19 Airbus A330-300s to provide interim capacity from early 2009 while it awaits delivery of the new aircraft it is ordering from Airbus and Boeing.

SIA had indicated last month that it was still willing to discuss a possible A350 order despite signing a letter of intent to take up to 40 Boeing 787-9 aircraft from 2011.

Under the agreement disclosed at the Farnborough air show today, SIA is to take 20 firm A350-900s for delivery between 2012 and 2014. The agreement covers options on another 20.

Airbus has revamped its A350 into a three-aircraft family known as the A350 XWB. The A350-900, the middle member of this family, will be able to accommodate up to 314 passengers.

“It is heartening that Airbus has listened to customer airlines and come up with a totally new design for the A350,” says SIA chief Chew Choon Seng. “The technical specifications and guaranteed performance will make it a very competitive aircraft in its class for the coming decades.”

He adds that Airbus has “demonstrated to our satisfaction” that the engineering design for the A380 is “sound”, and says: “It has performed well in flight and certification tests and the delays in its delivery have been caused more by production, rather than technical, issues.”

SIA already has an order for ten A380s and is due to become the first operator of the type. The letter of intent for the additional nine aircraft will take advantage of delivery positions secured when the carrier placed this earlier order.

The extra A380s will arrive from late 2008 to 2010 – the carrier says that this delivery schedule takes into account the revisions to the timetable made by Airbus in June.

No engine selection for either new Airbus aircraft type, or the interim A330s, has been disclosed, although SIA’s chose Rolls-Royce Trent 900s for its previously-ordered A380s.

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