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Finnair has signed a firm contract for eleven A350XWBs, making it the first airline to convert its order for nine of the initial A350, placed in December 2005, into the new A350XWB.
The new A350 XWB will feature much lighter Carbon Fibre Reinforced Plastic (CFRP) panelled fuselage skins. Airbus say that this innovation in manufacturing permits easier maintainability and reparability of individual airframe parts, while also allowing the structure of the panels to be much better optimized in terms of design to the stress and load requirements of each individual airframe part. Over 60 per cent of the airframe will be made of new materials.
“We are particularly honoured by this mark of confidence from Finnair, one of Europe’s major airlines. It is an endorsement of the new A350XWB programme. Throughout 2006, Finnair regularly expressed its faith in the product as well as in the Airbus team, and we are extremely pleased to come to this agreement today,” Airbus Chief Operating Officer Customers, John Leahy said.” I am confident the A350XWB will deliver on its promises and that it will meet Finnair’s requirements in terms of passenger and cargo traffic growth towards Asia and the Far East.”
M. Jukka Hienonen, CEO of Finnair underlined: “Having taken into account all competitive and economic factors, we decided to confirm our initial choice for our future growth in long-haul traffic. Commonality with our Airbus A320 single aisle fleet was one of the key drivers in our decision making. Seamless transition from the current long-haul fleet to the new generation A350XWB is safeguarded by the entry into our fleet of the A340s and A330s.”
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