Skift Take

Despite Boeing having its new 777X and 787 Dreamliner on offer, Airbus' best-selling widebody jet has clinched the deal.

Korean Air has confirmed a major deal with Airbus for a new generation of long-haul planes. 

The Seoul-based flag carrier is adding a total of 33 Airbus A350s to its fleet. This comprises 27 of the largest A350-1000s and six of the smaller -900 variant.

The list price of the contract is $13.7 billion, however airlines typically negotiate discounts for such large deals.

Korean Air says the new jets will be mostly used for fleet renewal.

Boeing planes such as the 777 form the majority of the airline’s existing long-haul fleet. The U.S. planemaker’s yet-to-be certified 777X aircraft was not selected to replace outgoing Boeing models.

Korean Mega-Merger Pending

Korean Air also highlighted synergies with Asiana Airlines – which it is in the final stages of acquiring – as a key consideration. The carrier, which is also based in Seoul, already has a large fleet of A350 jets.

Of 13 global regulators, only the United States has yet to give the merger its approval. Korean and Asiana have already had to forfeit flying rights in select markets to appease international competition authorities.

While precise seating configurations are still to be confirmed for the new A350s, the -1000 has a capacity for between 350 and 410 in a regular three-class setup. The shorter -900 typically seats between 300 and 350 passengers, again in the three-cabin layout. 

Air India and Delta Air Lines are among the other big name carriers to have opted for the European-built jet in recent months.

Where Will Korean Air’s A350 Fly?

In a statement, Korean Air referenced Seoul to New York as an example of a route well-suited to the new aircraft. The airline currently flies between the capitals twice daily, usually using Boeing planes such as the 747-8 jumbo. 

The deal comes at a busy time for the flag carrier. Aside from the Asiana transaction, it also has more than 100 other new planes in the pipeline. 

These include 50 A321neos narrowbody aircraft, also supplied by Airbus, as well as 30 787 Dreamliners and 30 737 Max 8s from Boeing.

Korean Air has traditionally hedged its fleet requirements by ordering aircraft from both of the big plane manufacturers. However, this latest deal for widebody jets looks set to tip the scales in Airbus’ favor. 


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Tags: a350, airbus, airlines, asiana airlines, Boeing, korean air

Photo credit: Korean Air Korean Air

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