Singapore Airlines (SIA) is close to finalising a planned order with Airbus for up to 40 A350 XWBs after confirming a lease agreement with the manufacturer for 19 A330-300s to provide interim cover.

Subsidiary SilkAir has meanwhile decided to stick with Airbus for its fleet expansion, and has placed a firm order for 11 more A319s and A320s for delivery between 2009 and 2012. It has also taken nine options and says the larger A321 could be added to the fleet in future. SIA has also firmed up a previously announced follow-on order for nine A380s.

SIA announced plans in July to place 20 firm orders for the A350-900 XWB and take 20 options, and says a formal agreement is due to be signed in January following the launch of the reworked version of the aircraft in December. The signing of the agreement will be a boost to the manufacturer, which has been struggling to compete with Boeing and its strong-selling 787.

SIA chief executive Chew Choon Seng says deliveries should begin in 2013, adding: "The agreement on the A350s is being worked on right now. Certainly we intend to proceed with the 20 [firm orders] plus 20 [options]." In the interim, the carrier will be leasing 19 new Rolls-Royce Trent 700-powered A330-300s from Airbus. It firmed up that agreement on 20 December, when it also confirmed a previously announced deal for nine more A380s.

The carrier is to be the first operator of the A380 following delivery from Airbus in October 2007. It had 10 Rolls-Royce Trent 900-powered examples on order from its original 2001 deal with Airbus - deliveries of which were to have begun early in 2006 - and now has 19 of the type on firm order.

SIA says the nine additional aircraft are due for delivery between January 2010 and early 2011. It also says it has "reached settlement with Airbus on issues relating to delays to deliveries of the A380. The terms of the purchases and settlement are confidential between the parties."

Deliveries of the A330-300s, which SIA says will provide "interim lift" until A350s arrive, are due to begin in January 2009 and continue through to October 2010. SIA also has 20 787-9s on firm order plus 20 options. It is the only airline to date to have selected both the A350 and 787.

Meanwhile Qantas has confirmed a previously announced follow-on order for A380s, raising its firm orders to 20 from 12.

More A380 deals expected
Airbus chief executive Louis Gallois said at the SIA signing ceremony last month that the manufacturer expects to secure additional orders for A380s from existing customers soon. "You will have in the near future other good news [regarding A380 orders] from existing cus­tomers for the A380," he says. Gallois declined to elaborate, although Lufthansa and Thai Airways International, which both have A380s on order, are seen as potential follow-on customers. Lufthansa recently placed a launch order for the passenger version of Boeing's 747-8.




Source: Flight International