British Airways is said to be close to a major order for Airbus A350 XWB jetliners in what would constitute a big win for Airbus over rival Boeing.
The Wall Street Journal reported that BA parent International Consolidated Airlines Group (IAG) was close to finalising the deal, which could be announced this week.
The size of the order was still under negotiation but IAG was believed to be focusing on the largest variant, the A350-1000, as a replacement for its aging Boeing 747-400s. The A350-1000 is scheduled to begin deliveries in 2017. The US newspaper said IAG was also considering orders for the smaller, longer-range A350-900.
British Airways currently operates 52 Boeing 777s, and Boeing has sought to persuade IAG to opt for the proposed upgrade to the proposed upgrade to that aircraft, known as the 777X. Though detailed plans for the 777X have yet to be released, Boeing is in talks with a variety of airlines and hopes to begin deliveries of the aircraft by the end of the decade. BA could still order 777s in addition to A350, though it was likely to receive less preferential treatment from Boeing in that case, the report said.
BA does not currently fly any long-range Airbus jets, though that is slated to change later this year with the arrival of its first A380.
Airbus last month said it was nearing completion of its first A350 test aircraft and planned to begin test flight during the northern hemisphere summer. Qatar Airways is set to receive the first production A350 in late 2014.