FedEx Express cites "ongoing uncertainties over the delivery schedule" for its decision last week to cancel its order for up to 20 Airbus A380 Freighters and sign for Boeing 777Fs instead.
FedEx was to be launch customer for the A380 Freighter, holding firm orders for 10 Engine Alliance GP7200-powered aircraft and options for at least a further 10. The freighters were due to arrive from August 2008 but, under last year's rescheduling, first deliveries had slipped to early 2009. After the most recent production delays, deliveries had slipped by "at least" another year and FedEx was forced to make the "very difficult decision" to cancel, says its managing director aircraft development, acquisitions and sales, David Sutton.
"We had six A380s due in 2009 - almost a million pounds of lift - and the uncertainty of the schedule caused by the delay affected our ability to fulfil our lift requirements," he says. "We lost confidence in Airbus's ability to deliver when it said it would, and there was the prospect of further delays."
The switch to the 777F (powered by General Electric GE90s) for its international services involves an order for 15 aircraft for delivery from 2009, and 15 options. Sutton says that although the twinjet's payload and volume is much lower than the A380F's, the switch could enable the carrier to operate more direct services. Sutton does not rule out the prospect of FedEx returning to the ultra-large A380 in the future. "I never say 'never'," he says.
The cancellation leaves two A380F customers - United Parcel Service with 10 orders and International Lease Finance with five.
The switch to smaller 777Fs will allow FedEx to fly more direct services