November 13, 2014 / 2:20 PM / 5 years ago

Emirates hopes for talks with Airbus on A350 in next few months

BERLIN (Reuters) - Dubai’s Emirates [EMIRA.UL] hopes to talk to plane maker Airbus in the next few months over possibly buying A350 planes after it unexpectedly cancelled an order for 70 in June, the airline’s president Tim Clark said on Thursday.

Emirates cabin crew board an Emirates Airbus A380-800 at Manchester Airport in Manchester, northern England, September 1, 2010. REUTERS/Phil Noble

The cancellation of the wide-body planes was a blow for Airbus and Clark acknowledged he was not “flavour of the month” with the plane maker.

He said Emirates had cancelled the order after Airbus changed the plane’s specifications but it would look closely at how the aircraft - which should enter service this year with Qatar Airways - performs once it starts flying.

“I’ve said the company will look at the A350 again. It will be done when we can align a contract to the performance of the aircraft,” Clark told reporters in Berlin.

Clark said Emirates would need new widebody planes from 2019, although it could also keep older planes in service for longer. He added by that time the A350 would be in competition with Boeing’s (BA.N) 787-10 jet, which is due to enter service in 2018.

Clark also upped the pressure on Airbus to come up with revamped A380 superjumbo, saying customers would buy more if the plane maker re-engined the plane.

Emirates is the biggest customer of the A380 and has ordered 140 so far, of which around 57 will be flying by the end of the year. It has said it would buy more if Airbus created a version with more fuel-saving engines.

Sales of the A380 have been slow as airlines fear they will struggle to fill its 500-plus seats. People familiar with the matter say Airbus will take a decision on whether to re-engine the plane in 2015.

“Let’s hope that Airbus sees sense,” Clark said.

Clark added that Emirates would make a decision on engines for its latest A380s by the end of November.

Emirates is expected to stick with Engine Alliance, a joint venture between General Electric (GE.N) and Pratt & Whitney (UTX.N), for the first 25 but look at Rolls Royce (RR.L) for later aircraft.

He also promised Emirates would add more luxury to its first and business class seats. Rival Etihad has upped the stakes by introducing three-room suites on board its A380s.

“We can’t afford three rooms per passenger, even us,” Clark said, but added: “It will be a considerable improvement.”

Additional reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Kirsti Knolle and Susan Thomas

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