Airbus Korean Air

Possible Korean Air New Wide Body Order in Sight for Airbus

While things don’t seem to be improving for Boeing, after a horrible start of year, Airbus seems ready to secure a new important wide body aircraft sale. A sale that will make Boeing a little worried if it actually goes through. I’m of course talking about the possibility of Korean Air placing an order for Airbus’ A350 aircraft in the near future. So let’s look into this rumour and why it might worry Boeing.

Bloomberg’s Insight on Korean Air’s Possible Airbus Deal

Bloomberg revealed that there are ongoing contacts between Airbus and Korean Air for a possibile new wide body jet order coming soon. The Korean flag carrier seems to have set its eyes on the Airbus A350 as the latest addition to its fleet. An aircraft type the Asian carrier still doesn’t operate.

If the order effectively follows what Bloomberg has anticipated Korean Air will be ordering 20 Airbus A350 planes. With the deal ready to be closed in a matter of days.

It remains to be seen which variant the carrier will opt for. Will it be the A350-900 or the A350-1000? Or will it be a combination of the two? It all depends on which planes they are looking to replace.

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Which Planes Will The A350 Replace in The Korean Air Fleet?

The variant Korean Air will order will depend heavily on which current aircraft they aim to replace with the new A350s. I’ve covered in the KE fleet analysis how the carrier has a problem with some planes. Specifically the A330s and, to a lesser extent, some of the 777s are getting older and need replacement.

Depending on which planes they will replace with the new fleet additions Korean Air will order one or the other variant. If they are looking to replace the A330s, most plausible option as they are over 17 years old on average, they will most likely go for the 900 variant. If on the other hand they want to replace the 777 they might opt for the 1000 variant.

Already this order probably somewhat worries Boeing, but it would become a real headache if the latter was the case. Why’s that? Let’s take a look at it in the next paragraph.

Korean Air Airbus A330-200 a plane that might be replaced with the Airbus A350-900 if KE closes the deal with the European manufacturer

Why The KE Airbus Deal Can Worry Boeing and Become a Headache?

If Airbus actually closes the deal with Korean Air it can be somewhat worrying for Boeing. Although it also risks becoming a full blown headache if a specific scenario pans out in my opinion.

For those that are not aware of it, Korean Air is in the middle of a merger with the other major Korean carrier, Asiana. Hanjin, Korean Air’s parent company, is looking to take over 2/3 of Asiana from the Kumho Group. The deal if approved by competition authorities in all interested jurisdictions will see the two airlines become one.

There will therefore be a need for a fleet harmonisation and simplification, as to put it in Walter Cho’s words (Korean Air CEO) the airline would operate all aircraft and engine types available on the market.

Therefore the fact that KE has chosen to order, at the moment, only new Airbus wide bodies can be worrying for Boeing as the new Korean Air is a potential huge client. What could make this into a full blown headache is if KE actually decides to replace, some or all, of its 777s with the A350s. That would be an indication to how Airbus might become the dominant supplier. Keep in mind that Korean Air still hasn’t placed an order for the massively delayed Boeing 777X.

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