Airbus reportedly slowed development and deliveries of two derivatives of the A350 XWB by up to two years, to incorporate additional modifications due to customer feedback (MarketWatch, 16-Jun-2011). The manufacturer is maintaining the initial 2013 delivery schedule for the A350-900, but has pushed back the timetable for the smaller A350-800 from 2014 to 2016 and for the larger A350-1000 from 2015 to mid-2017. Airbus and Rolls-Royce announced they will jointly develop the A350-1000 with more powerful Trent XWB engines, offering extra thrust with an increased aircraft take-off weight of 308 tonnes, enhancing the aircraft’s capabilities.
A350 derivatives delayed by up to two years
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Southeast Asia-US airline market Part 2: at least 7 airlines to offer US nonstop services by 2021
The deployment of new generation ultra-long-range widebody aircraft is prompting several airlines to plan new nonstop services between Southeast Asia and the continental US. New variants of the A350 have particularly emerged as a new, more efficient and popular option for Southeast Asia-US flights, with orders over the past year from three Southeast Asian flag carriers.
On 5-Sep-2016 Vietnam Airlines became the latest Southeast Asian airline to commit to new generation ultra-long-range aircraft capable of new nonstop routes – joining Philippine Airlines and Singapore Airlines. Garuda Indonesia and Thai Airways are likely to follow, resulting in four Southeast Asian airlines operating nonstop flights to the US by early next decade, compared with only one currently.
Delta Air Lines may also join United Airlines with nonstop Southeast Asia-US services. There are opportunities in the Southeast Asia-US market for nonstop routes, but competition with one-stop products will be intense. Profitability will be heavily challenged or non-existent. SIA started the trend due to strategic, not financial, imperatives. Under the charm of low fuel prices, Southeast Asian airlines risk falling into the spell of "me too" nonstop flights, just as they did with over-sized aircraft acquisitions.
Vietnam Airlines readies to enter US market, with Ho Chi Minh-LAX, following A350-900 HGW order
Vietnam Airlines has become the latest Southeast Asian airline to commit to new ultra-long range aircraft enabling the launch of nonstop flights to the continental US. Vietnam Airlines has acquired 10 higher gross weight A350-900s, which are capable of operating nonstop Los Angeles to Ho Chi Minh even in strong headwinds, from 2020.
Vietnam Airlines has been preparing for flights to the US for several years and now finally has committed to acquiring an aircraft capable of launching its preferred US route. Several US routes are possible but Ho Chi Minh-Los Angeles is by far biggest Vietnam-US city pair with over 100,000 annual one-way passengers.
Vietnam Airlines will join Philippine Airlines, Singapore Airlines and United Airlines – and likely Garuda Indonesia and Thai Airways – in operating nonstop flights from Southeast Asia to the continental US. New generation aircraft have opened up new opportunities to operate Southeast Asia-US fights economically but overcoming intense one-stop competition will be a challenge.