Airbus brushes off cancellation of A350 order

Considering that his company had just announced the cancellation of Emirates’ order for 70 A350s, John Leahy, COO at Airbus, was remarkably chipper in a Q&A session with journalists this morning (June 11).

These things happen, seemed to be his response to CEO Tim Clark’s decision to call off a deal that represented 9 per cent of the A350’s order book and was worth billions of dollars to both Airbus and engine supplier Rolls-Royce.

After quickly quashing any suggestion that the decision could be related to the aircraft’s performance in testing – “absolutely not, we have not issued any new performance data” – Leahy said that Emirates’ change of heart didn’t worry him.

“It’s never good news when someone cancels an order, but if Tim's doing it because his fleet planning needs has changed and he’s looking for aircraft of different size categories, I don’t think that it will have any impact at all,” he said, when quizzed on whether he thought Emirates’ decision could affect future orders.

Leahy was also bullish about being able to fill the now vacant order spots in 2019/20. “There’s already a queue of people that are expressing interest in those slots and the announcement was only made a couple of hours ago,” he said. “There’s certainly going to be no hold up on production.”

He even joked that by the time the slots came around Clark might have changed his mind.

Rolls-Royce too quickly put a brave face on the announcement saying it was “confident” that other airlines would fill the gap

There is, of course, no other option.

But whether or not Emirates decision was simply based on its desire to focus on its fleet of A380s, the cancellation will certainly get people thinking and any further order changes are sure to be scrutinised at length.

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