Etihad Airways has further reduced its Airbus A350-1000 order, following a series of modifications and delivery delays with the twin-engined aircraft.
The national carrier, which is based in Abu Dhabi, had originally purchased 25 A350-1000s as part of a large-scale fleet expansion programme in 2008.
However, it was rumoured to be unhappy with design modifications announced at Paris International Airshow last year, leading to six aircraft being removed from the firm order in January 2012. As a result of the latest cancellation, Etihad’s order currently stands at 12 A350-1000s.
"While we have reduced our firm orders, our 25 options and purchase rights for this fleet remain in place and will no doubt play a crucial role in the airline's growth. This is not a new cancellation," a spokesman for the airline commented. "Although not intrinsically linked, the recent delay to the A350 XWB programme provided an appropriate opportunity for Etihad to revisit its projected fleet mix in the latter part of the decade.”
Revisions and delays to the A350-1000 have resulted in a public fallout with other customers over the past year, such as Emirates Airline and Air Lease Corporation. The most vocal, however, has been the aircraft’s launch customer Qatar Airways, which threatened to cancel its order for 20 of the -1000 variant in favour of the smaller -900 model.
“It never makes me happy when one of the programmes we are so dependent upon is being delayed. This will dent our expansion and fleet replacement programme,” the media were told by Qatar Airways CEO Akbar Al Baker. “Airbus is not listening to us; I don’t think they’ve achieved anything with this investment and frankly, we are losing confidence in the manufacturers’ ability to deliver contractual commitment.”