British Airways will buy 18 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft and has signed for 18 options as part of the airline’s ongoing long-haul aircraft fleet renewal strategy.
IAG, owner of British Airways and Iberia, has also secured commercial terms and delivery slots that could lead to firm orders for Iberia. Firm orders will only be made when Iberia is in a position to grow profitably, having restructured and reduced its cost base.
The selection of the A350 follows British Airways’ decision in 2007 to buy 12 Airbus A380s, the first of which will be delivered this summer.
The airline said operating the A380 and A350 together would deliver “real value to the world’s leading airlines because it allows them to match aircraft capacity to traffic demand on any route”.
IAG chief executive Willie Walsh said: “The A350-1000 will bring many benefits to our fleet. Its size and range will be an excellent fit for our existing network and, with lower unit costs, there is an opportunity to operate a new range of destinations profitably. This will not only bring greater flexibility to our network but also more choice for our customer.”
The A350-1000 is the largest member of the A350 family seating up to 350 passengers in three classes, with a range capability of 8,400nm (15,500 km).
British Airways currently operates 112 A320 family aircraft and is one of the world’s few airlines to operate all members of the A320 Family (A318, A319, A320 and A321). British Airways first became an Airbus operator in 1988, when it began flying A320s. The airline added the A319s to its fleet in 1999 and the A321 in 2004.