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BA looking to buy more A380’s – and Virgin Atlantic buying A350-1000’s

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It is looking like we are about to see a burst of long-haul aircraft orders from both British Airways and Virgin Atlantic.

Speaking at a recent conference in Dublin, Willie Walsh, CEO of BA’s parent IAG, made a public statement that he wanted to add another five or six A380’s to the existing British Airways fleet of 12 – the final two of which have yet to be delivered.

There is a lot of politics in this statement.  His comment that he may lease rather than buy due to the high Airbus ticket price is simply a shot across the bows of their pricing team.  Airbus has only added three A380 orders in the last 18 months or so, for Japanese airline ANA.

At the same time, Malaysia Airlines is looking to offload its A380 fleet of six aircraft.  These come with the Rolls-Royce engines which IAG is insisting upon in order to match the existing fleet.  Amazingly, Emirates is already planning to sell it first batch of A380’s as being ‘too old’ but these are primarily GE / Pratt & Whitney powered.  Five early Singapore Airlines A380 aircraft with Rolls-Royce engines may also become available soon if, as is believed, Singapore does not renew their lease.

A380 1

Meanwhile, over at Virgin Atlantic, Bloomberg reports that the airline is about to agree a deal for 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft.

I discussed the different models of A350 aircraft in this article in December.  Once launched (Qatar will be first to receive them) it will be the largest of the three A350 variants.

The deal, for delivery from 2018, is likely to see the end of Boeing 747 and A340 operations and would give Virgin a mixed Boeing 787 / Airbus A350 fleet.

Whilst the Bloomberg piece does not mention it, I wouldn’t be surprised if Virgin is trying to negotiate with Airbus to get out of its outstanding A380 order as part of a deal to take the A350s.

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