Kuwait Airlines Cancels 5 Airbus A350 Orders

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Middle Eastern carrier Kuwait Airways canceled a portion of its original Airbus A350 order. Back in 2013, it made an order for 10 of the aircraft type. News broke in 2018 that the airline had canceled five orders for the A350. It’s taken quite some time, but those numbers are finally reflected in Airbus’ order books.

The Kuwait Airways order for A350s was announced way back in December 2013. Photo: Airbus

Nothing new

While the news is actually a year and a half old now, the interesting thing is that this change wasn’t reflected in Airbus’ O&D (orders and deliveries) files until March 2020. In Airbus’ February 2020 O&D file, Kuwait Airways was still listed as having 10 orders of the A350. With the March O&D file being released yesterday, we now see the A350 order down to five for the airline.

The order for 10 A350s was originally announced in December of 2013, along with 15 single-aisle A320neo jets. At the time, Kuwait Airways’ acting Chairman Mr. Jassar Al Jassar had commented on the order saying:

“The Airbus Family is the ideal choice for an airline like ours. The A350-900 will strengthen our long haul route development whilst the A320neo will further boost our regional route network. These aircraft are an essential part of our ambitious growth plans.”

While Kuwait Airways has yet to take delivery of any of its Airbus A350s, it did receive its first A320neo in September of 2019.

Kuwait Airways has yet to take delivery of any of its Airbus A350s. Photo: Airbus

Swapping the A350 for the A330neo

News of the five A350 cancelations came out in October of 2018, the same month as the airline announced its order for eight A330neos. It’s quite interesting (and perhaps slightly deceptive?) that the press release for the A330neo order neglected to mention that it was actually a swap. Unsurprisingly, it highlighted the excitement of new aircraft being ordered.

“The A330-800 will seamlessly fit into our fleet expansion and growth plans. Its unbeatable operating economics and performance in addition to best in class passenger comfort make it a sound investment. We are confident that the A330-800 will support us to compete effectively on our expanding route network. Our relationship with Airbus extends beyond aircraft acquisitions and we look forward to further collaboration on technical fields.” – Yousef Al-Jassim, Chairman Kuwait Airways

Kuwait Airways’ first Airbus A330-800neo will arrive later this year. Photo: Airbus

Conclusion

Kuwait Airways was supposed to begin taking deliveries of the A330-800 in March 2019 and receive its last jet at the end of 2026. However, delivery of the first A330-800 has been delayed and the airline will now receive it in November.

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While this isn’t “the latest news”, it’s interesting to reflect on the fact that there was a swap and that it happened relatively quietly. It would be interesting to know the reasons for the swap. Was it a proposition from Airbus in order to secure an A330-800 customer? Or was Kuwait Airways indeed looking to add more versatility to its fleet and operations by way of more aircraft? Perhaps the A330s would arrive sooner than if the airline had waited for only A350s.

Who’s idea do you think it was? And would you prefer five A350-900s to eight A330-800s? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!

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