In a move to "upgrade" its freight capacity, Etihad Airways has firmed its order for the Airbus A350F freighter.
The deal, which follows a letter of intent (LoI) announced at February's Singapore Airshow, will see the Abu Dhabi-based carrier accept seven examples.
Equipped with Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 powerplants, the type offers a 109 tonne payload capability.
Meanwhile, the operator has firmed up a “long-term agreement” for the European manufacturer’s Flight Hour Services (FHS), which will be used to support its entire A350 fleet, helping to “maintain aircraft performance and optimise reliability”.
Tony Douglas, Group chief executive officer, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “In building one of the world’s youngest and most sustainable fleets, we are delighted to extend our long-term partnership with Airbus to add the A350 Freighter to our fleet. This additional cargo capacity will support the unprecedented growth we are experiencing in the Etihad Cargo division. Airbus has developed a remarkable fuel-efficient aircraft that, in tandem with the A350-1000 in our passenger fleet, supports our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”
Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International, added: “Airbus is delighted to extend its long-standing partnership with Etihad Airways, who recently introduced the A350 passenger services and is continuing to build on the Family with the game-changing freighter version, the A350F. This new generation large freighter brings unprecedented and unmatched benefits in terms of range, fuel efficiency and CO₂ savings, that support customers by enhancing operational efficiencies at the same time as reducing environmental impact.”
The incoming freighters will complement Etihad’s existing passenger fleet of A350-1000s, which currently comprise five examples: A6-XWA (c/n 315), A6-XWB (c/n 290) – which sports a special ‘Sustainable50’ scheme – A6-XWC (c/n 330), A6-XWE (c/n 342) and A6-XWF (c/n 388).
These five are just a fraction of a blockbuster order placed at the 2013 Dubai Airshow which was later radically scaled back amid wider restructuring at the UAE airline.
To date, Airbus has now achieved 31 firm orders from six customers for the freighter variant of its popular twin-engine widebody.