19 SEPTEMBER 2016
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A firm order for nine Airbus A330-300 aircraft was confirmed last week by Hong Kong Airlines as the first A350 XWB for China Airlines completed its maiden flight over the skies of Toulouse.
The developments were a bonus for the manufacturer after it emerged Singapore Airlines (SIA) would not renew the lease contract for its first A380, leading to reports carriers were turning against the double-deck super-jumbo.
At Hong Kong Airlines, president Zhang Kui said the contract announcement “underscores our plan to operate an extensive regional network in Asia… as well as allowing further deployment on long-haul routes in future”.
At China Airlines, the A350 XWB first flight clears the way for the final phase of production, including further ground and flight tests. The aircraft is scheduled for delivery in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, Airbus is facing persistent rumours of airlines turning against the A380 because it is difficult to fill after the decision by SIA, which was the launch customer for the A380 in 2007.
The magazine Aviation Week commented: “That SIA has decided not to extend the lease contract for its first Airbus A380 is not a surprise, but the decision illustrates how much the long-haul aircraft market has changed since the A380 was conceived.”
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