The move follows the signing of a letter of intent for the type earlier this year.
Airbus has received another key vote of confidence in its A350 Freighter, with Etihad Airways having firmed up an order for 7 examples of the cargo-carrying widebody. The Abu Dhabi-based UAE flag carrier considers the A350F, and its passenger-carrying counterpart, to be key parts of its efforts to rise efficiency.
Etihad’s relationship with the Airbus A350F
The story of Etihad’s relationship with the Airbus A350F started earlier this year, when, in February 2022, the carrier signed a letter of intent for the type at the Singapore Airshow. This move confirmed the airline’s interest in buying seven examples of the new freighter, and, today, it has converted this into a firm order.
This will permit Etihad to raise its cargo operations, with the events of the past few years have underlined the importance of airfreight. Indeed, as we shall examine more closely, the order will ultimately result in the carrier’s cargo division more than doubling in size. Tony Douglas, Etihad’s CEO, received the agreement and said that:
“In building one of the world’s youngest and most sustainable fleets, we are delighted to increase our long-term partnership with Airbus to add the A350 Freighter to our fleet. This additional cargo capacity will help the unprecedented growth we are experiencing in the Etihad Cargo division.”
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According to data from ch-aviation.com, Etihad’s existing cargo fleet consists of 5 Boeing 777-200 Freighters. Historically talking, the carrier has also operated a 6th example of this design. These twinjets are relatively young, with an average age of just 7.1 years old. Nonetheless, the arrival of the 7 A350Fs will permit this section of the fleet to further its development and modernization.
With Etihad airways being an existing 777F operator, it is interesting that the carrier didn’t opt for Boeing’s 777XF when it came to modernizing its cargo fleet. After all, the A350F will likely be one of the 777XF’s most direct rivals. Nonetheless, Etihad’s order is a key boost for the design, which now has 31 orders from 6 airlines. Commenting on the agreement, Airbus CCO Christian Scherer stated:
“Airbus is delighted to extend its long-standing partnership with Etihad Airways, who recently introduced the A350 [to] travelers services, and is continuing to make on the Family with the game-changing freighter version, the A350F.”
- Both executives were also keen to touch upon the environmental advantages that the Airbus A350F will offer to Etihad airways. For example, Tony Douglas reported that:
“Airbus has created a remarkable fuel-efficient aircraft that, in tandem with the A350-1000 in our passenger fleet, supports our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
“This new generation large freighter brings unprecedented and unmatched benefits in terms of range, fuel efficiency, and CO₂ savings, that help customers by enhancing operational efficiencies at the same time as reducing environmental impact.”
Airbus is yet to specify a delivery date for Etihad’s new freighters. Nonetheless, it will be exciting to see the type enter service with the Abu Dhabi-based UAE flag carrier, which will surely want it to join its fleet as soon as possible.
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