Airbus Korean Air

Signed Sealed To Be Delivered 33 Airbus A350 to Korean Air

A massive win for Airbus came today under the signing of an aircraft supply agreement with Korean Air. The Asian carrier will be incorporating the most advanced Airbus long range airliner in its fleet. Here’s how many and which variants of the A350 Korean Air will be purchasing.

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Korean Air’s 33 Airbus A350 Order

There had been talk about this oder for some days already. Bloomberg had given us some insights on a deal that seemed to be very close to being sealed earlier this week. It was all confirmed as the Korean national carrier and the European aircraft manufacturer shook hands over an agreement.

Specifically Korean Air will be acquiring 33 wide body planes from Airbus. That translates to a total value of 13.7 Billion USD. An order that echoed across the aviation world and the stock markets.

KE (Korean Air) however didn’t just order 1 variant of the largest Airbus currently in production. They actually ordered both variants available, the A350-1000 and the A350-900, albeit the former makes up most of the aircraft order. Specifically Korean Air ordered:

  • 27 Airbus A350-1000
  • 6 Airbus A350-900

The Airbus A350-1000 is the larger variant capable of seating approximately 350 passengers in a 3 class configuration. A comparable size to to the Boeing 777-300ER, keep that in mind for later in the post. Also this larger plane is specifically optimised for ULR flights as it can cover distances of up to 16,000km, making it a long range workhorse.

The A350-900 shares all characteristics with the 1000 but is 7 meters shorter hence accommodates less passengers. It represents the backbone of long range operations for many airlines around the world and is by far the most popular and common variant to be seen in airports.

Rendering of the Airbus A350 in the Korean Air light blue livery flying. The airline ordered 33 of the aircraft type.

A Big Win For Airbus?

It is a massive win for Airbus who seems to be capitalising on the difficulties Boeing is facing in recent times as it tries to regroup and restructure to return to competitiveness. Airbus will be entering, setting aside the A380, the Korean Air’s ULR fleet. Currently most long range flights, outside of Asia, are served by Boeing manufactured planes.

Although the A330s are capable of long range flights, they are the oldest units in the KE fleet and are commonly used for medium haul services within Asia. You never see them fly to Europe for instance. The cabins are out of date and are not an attractive product on flights longer than 5-6 hours.

Therefore the A350 will ensure that Airbus continues to be part of this key east Asian airline’s long range operations, even in the case Korean Air retires its A380s.

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

Where Will The New Korean Air Airbus A350s Fly To?

The airline still didn’t officially disclose which routes the plane will be serving once it enters service with the Korean flag carrier. However it was stated that it could serve routes such as Seoul to New York (JFK).

That is exactly the route profile that I think is most likely to see these planes on. In essence I think it is most likely to see the new Airbus A350s fly to the US-Canada east coast. Maybe we could possibly also see it fly to a limited selection of European destinations. London is the one that pops into mind quickest for the A350-100 particularly.

Out With The Old In With The New in Korean Air’s Fleet

Now which planes will be replaced is something we don’t know for certain. It is most likely that the Airbus A330s will be on the way out with the A350s replacing them. The other ordered A321neo would replace the A330s on the medium to short range, freeing up more wide bodies for long range operations.

However it is possibile that operationally the A350 will replace in more than a few instances the Boeing 777s. Also it is more than possibile that the A350 will be the go to high capacity wide body plane for Korean Air in the future unless the airline finalises an order for the much delayed Boeing 777X.

About the author

Alex Achille

Ex Cabin Crew with Emirates, I've always loved travelling and other cultures. In this website I'll be sharing my experiences along with my reviews of the latest Korean Dramas and TV Series I've watched.

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