LATAM Airlines Group has significantly cut down the number of orders for its Airbus A350 XWB aircraft within a space of just over a month. On February 29th, the Latin American outfit had an order for 25 of the widebody aircraft. However, this number had fallen to just 15 by the time this month hit.
A change of plan
According to Airbus’ order books, on the last day of February, LATAM had its A350 orders split between 17 -900s and eight of the larger -1000s. This number dropped by ten units by the time March 31st came around. On this date, there was a total of 13 orders for the -900 and just two for the -1000.
The group also has 13 deliveries of the -900 variant, with eight of them operational. The aircraft is praised for its ability to perform with ease on long-haul journeys. Its spacious interior with wide aisles and high ceiling makes it a pleasure to sit back on during long flights.
Meanwhile, its state of the art Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-84 engines help the aircraft reach a range of up to 16,100 km (8,700 nm). Each engine provides 97,000 lbs. of thrust on takeoff. Airbus uses an even more robust Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 for the -1000.
However, much like many airlines in these uncertain times, LATAM has chosen to scale back its aircraft orders. The group is not alone in its approach towards the A350. Last month, it was reported that Qantas deferred a decision on its -1000 order until at least December.
Even before the recent drop in demand and travel restrictions, LATAM was playing down its desire for the -1000. According to FlightGlobal, in January, the airline converted four orders of the planes to -900s.
With only a few long-haul services in action right now, airlines are likely to continue canceling orders or delaying deliveries until the dust settles. The group operates several commercial and cargo subsidiaries based in seven South American countries. The continent’s aviation industry is currently rocked with airport closures for many of the nations.
Additionally, there are harsh travel restrictions for those looking to travel through LATAM’s hubs in Brazil. Altogether, the company is only operating five routes this month. However, with all the restrictions in place, there probably aren’t many passengers on these services.
Not a priority
Ultimately, it is not surprising to see the firm cancel aircraft orders during this time. Moreover, with 75 percent of the world’s flights currently down, there isn’t much urgency for widebody units such as the A350 right now. Nonetheless, once restrictions are relaxed and demand props up again, LATAM, along with other carriers will be prepared to commit to larger orders.
Simple Flying reached out to LATAM for comment on its Airbus A350 cancellations but did not hear back before publication. We will update the article with any further announcements.
What are your thoughts on LATAM making significant changes to its orders over the last few months? Do you see more airlines following this course of action? Let us know what you think of the situation in the comment section.