Airbus Delivers First A350-1000; Should Boeing Be Worried?

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European aircraft maker Airbus Tuesday morning delivered the first A350-1000 commercial jet to launch customer Qatar Airways. The handover was to have taken place nearly two months ago but the company ran into a snag with the new QSuite premium business class interior.

Qatar Airways has ordered 37 of the new planes and is the largest customer for the dual-aisle, twin-engine A350-1000, which is capable of seating up to 366 passengers in a three-class arrangement. The aircraft’s range is 8,000 nautical miles (nm), and it is powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.

The handover was the last official duty of Airbus commercial president and COO Fabrice Brégier, whose last day at the company is today. His replacement is Guillaume Faury, who has headed the company’s helicopter division and who also managed the development and launch of the A350.

Brégier said that a stretched version of the A350-1000 may come after new engines are developed for the plane, but Marisa Lucas, who is the marketing chief for the A350, said the company had studied the option but has no plans to do so.

The 777-9 from Boeing Co. (NYSE: BA) is the U.S. maker’s competitive offering, but it won’t be available until 2020. The 777-9 is rated to carry 40 more passengers, and both Boeing and Airbus claim their respective planes are the most efficient.

In the never-ending war of words between Airbus and Boeing, Lucas dismissed the 777-9, calling it a “compromise” aircraft, according to a report from Leeham News. She also noted that an empty 777-9 weighs as much as a fully loaded A350-1000. Airbus plans to build 10 of the planes per month by the end of this year and to raise production to 13 per month in 2019.

The Airbus A350-1000 has a list price of $366.5 million, and the 777-9’s list price is $425.8 million. It is the most expensive plane on Boeing’s price list.

Airbus has taken orders for just 169 A350-1000s after some airlines swapped orders for the plane for the smaller A350-900, according to Leeham News.