Airbus’s newest aircraft the A350 is a perfect fit for airlines in this part of the world, a senior executive at the Toulouse-based company said.
The A350, which landed in Sydney on Tuesday morning as part of its final certification phase, has garnered more than 700 orders from airlines around the globe, including the likes of Singapore Airlines, Cathay Pacific and AirAsia X from Asia.
However, Qantas, Virgin Australia and Air New Zealand are not customers – the Flying Kangaroo has a stack of Boeing 787-9 options and purchase rights, Air New Zealand is introducing the 787-9 into service, and Virgin has not been expanding its international flying.
Airbus senior vice president of sales for the Pacific Isabelle Floret says the A350 has the right range, “mind-blowing economics” and passenger features for airlines in the region.
“It is a perfect fit for the region because we are far away from everywhere here,” Floret said on Tuesday.
“It is an aircraft that has got a long range which can reach easily the US, South Africa and of course Asia.”
The aircraft which landed in Sydney on Tuesday morning was MSN5, having flown in from Johannesburg overnight. It was fitted with a fully functional cabin, complete with 42 business class and 223 economy class seats, as well as a full galley and crew rest areas.
Floret said the A350 would also work well alongside the double decker superjumbo A380.
“When sometimes you need more than one A380 frequency on a route but you don’t need two A380 frequencies, the A350 is a good sistership for the A380,” Floret said.
While the main focus of the flights would be on testing and the final phase of flight certification, the aircraft was on display in Sydney for potential customers such as Qantas and Virgin, suppliers, lessors, industry figures and even some frequent flyers.
“Before an airline decides that it needs aeroplanes you need to do some marketing to show your product around,” Floret said.
“They have to be willing to buy the product and I believe that when you look at the A350, you should think that it will fit perfectly in the fleet.”
These route proving flights were the last phase of the certification process, to demonstrate the aircraft’s readiness for airline operations.
After Sydney, MSN5 heads to Auckland where it will spend the night before flying onwards to Santiago in Chile and Sao Paulo, Brazil.
Airbus said certification was scheduled to take place before the end of September, with delivery to launch customer Qatar Airways due to follow before the end of 2014.
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