By Charlotte Seet
Etihad Airways Becomes Newest Airbus A350F Customer at Singapore Airshow
Held as a biennial event where aviation’s finest meet at Asia’s largest and most influential aerospace and defence exhibition, the Singapore Airshow is the event for both the leaders of the aerospace industry, as well as the eager newcomers to make their mark and settle in some new partnerships.
After a full two days — with another two to go — the Singapore Airshow 2022 has shown some remarkable highlights such as Singapore Airlines’ signing of a $2.8 billion order for 22 GE9X engines to power its future fleet of Boeing 777X aircraft, as well as the national carrier finalizing its purchase agreement with Airbus for seven A350F freighters.
Besides the ongoing successful partnership with Singapore Airlines, manufacturing giant Airbus has been having a grand repeat of the success it had during the Dubai Airshow late last year as the likes of Cebu Pacific selecting the Airbus Flight Hour Services for its fleet of 16 A330neos, and also including Jetblue having ordered an additional 30 A220-300s.
The success does not stop for just the commercially for Airbus, as its significance in the air cargo freighter market continues to grow bigger – especially since Etihad Airways has just become the latest airline customer intending to add the A350F freighter to its fleet.
“We are pleased to sign this agreement with our long-standing partner Etihad, shortly before this most discerning airline also introduces A350 passenger service. Thank you Etihad for endorsing the game-changing nature of the new A350F” said Christian Scherer, Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International.
Interestingly, the Gulf carrier is actually yet to confirm when its passenger fleet of the Airbus A350 will enter flying service or even the planned routes, yet Etihad Airways proved eager for the A350F freighter as it signed a Letter of Intent for seven aircraft, all of which will be added to its existing fleet of five A350-1000 passenger fleet. And just like Cebu Pacific, the airline has also chosen Airbus’ Flight Hour Services to support its entire A350 fleet.
“Etihad is delighted to extend our relationship with Airbus to include this remarkable aircraft as part of our freighter fleet for the future,” said Tony Douglas, Group Chief Executive Officer, Etihad Aviation Group. “As our cargo operations continue to overperform and we work towards a more sustainable future built upon the world’s youngest and most fuel-efficient fleet, the addition of the A350F will play a key role in driving our long-term cargo strategy and achieving our 2035 target to reduce CO ₂ emissions by 50%.”
Etihad Airways interest in the Airbus A350F freighter is quite the curious move, and would make it the first of the three major Gulf carriers to sign a Letter of Intent for it, as Qatar Airways worsening relationship with Airbus has made it sign for the Boeing 777X freighter instead.
Oddly enough, Qatar Airways’ flagship passenger aircraft is the Airbus A350, whereas it’s the Boeing 787 Dreamliner for Etihad Airways. And cargo fleet wise, both Gulf carriers operate a more Boeing-centered fleet of freighters — which is why it does come as quite a surprise for Etihad Airways to intent towards the A350F instead of the 777X freighter.
With the intent from Etihad Airways, the order logbook for the Airbus A350F and the Boeing 777X freighter seems to be rather on par with each other right now. It would be quite the turn of events for either manufacturer when the third and final prominent Gulf carrier – Emirates, whose cargo fleet is mainly Boeing-centered as well – makes an order for either freighter, or when another airline comes along to sign for either as well.