Airbus completed the first composite lay-up for the A350 XWB, a part of the centre wing box, on 04-Dec-2009. The completion of the part is a key milestone for the A350 XWB. Firm orders for the A350 XWB now stand at 505 from 32 customers worldwide. [more]
A350 XWB first composite lay-up manufactured in Nantes
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Taiwan's China Airlines considers Airbus order as a means to winning French traffic rights
China Airlines is weighing an order for Airbus aircraft that it expects will result in the French state granting traffic rights to allow China Airlines to fly to Paris, providing competition to China Airlines' local competitor EVA Air – the only nonstop operator on the route.
Since a 2016 government change in Taiwan, China Airlines – long a sleepy government airline – has shown greater interest in growth. However, Europe is not a strong market for the airline. In Paris there is opportunity to work with fellow SkyTeam member Air France. This potentially makes Paris less costly for China Airlines than its planned resumption of service to London.
China Airlines is once again planning a narrowbody order to replace and supplement its existing 737-800 fleet. The order will reflect how optimistic China Airlines is about the turbulent cross-strait market.
The A320neo is favoured, and it is unclear whether an order might also mean that China Airlines exercises its six options for the A350. China Airlines has received five of a 2008 order for 14 A350s. The correlation between Airbus aircraft orders and French traffic rights is sensitive, but this is hardly the first example. Taiwan and the US, home to Boeing, have an open skies agreement.
Air France-KLM Group dreams of CDG airline boosting Air France; KLM again makes more profit in 2016
In 2016 Air France-KLM's long haul network generated more profit than the group as a whole. Yet the dependence of Air France-KLM's profits on the long haul business is under threat from more cost efficient competitors, in particular the Gulf based super connectors. Moreover, Air France-KLM's main European competitors IAG, and now Lufthansa, have developed a clear lead in developing commercial partnerships with Gulf airlines.
Air France-KLM's 2016 operating margin was its highest since before the global financial crisis, but remained below its pre crisis peaks and well below the rest of the world airline industry in what was almost certainly a new record year for global margins. Within the group, KLM's margin improved and was again higher than that of Air France, whose margin fell.
The planned new lower cost airline to be based at Paris CDG as a subsidiary of Air France, announced in outline in 2016 under the project name 'Boost', will now include medium haul in addition to long haul routes. This will be vital to setting it back on a path to sustainable profitability – if agreement can be reached with pilot unions to launch it. Even then, its scope and low cost ambitions will be limited.