(Adds Airbus comment, background)
PARIS Feb 3 Air France has swapped
its remaining orders for two Airbus A380 superjumbos for three
smaller A350s, Airbus confirmed on Friday, highlighting a switch
towards lighter twinjets.
The French carrier announced the swap last March and
included it in its 2015 annual report, but the switchover only
appeared in Airbus's published order list for January 2017.
An Airbus spokesman said the company records a cancellation
once a formal agreement is signed. "In the case of the Air
France A380 cancellation, this occurred in January."
Air France was one of the first airlines to order the
world's largest passenger jet, placing 10 orders in 2001 and
becoming its first European operator.
It ordered another two in 2007 as part of a compensation
deal for delays caused by industrial problems.
Air France and several other carriers later cooled towards
the double-decker as a new generation of smaller and lighter
twin-engined models came into service.
The drop in demand forced Airbus to announce a cut in
production last year.
Qantas has indicated it will not take undelivered A380s, but
British Airways has expressed interest in buying second-hand
models soon to come on the market, a decade after the A380
entered service in 2007.
Dubai's Emirates, by far the largest customer, is still a
big advocate for the A380 but has deferred taking some
deliveries as Gulf airlines face slower growth.
Airbus has said it is confident the aircraft will see fresh
demand as congestion limits the number of slots at major hub
airports and as relatively weak oil prices boost its economics.
Boeing, whose competing 747 jumbo is nearing the end of a
long career, took two cancellations in the same category this
In total, Airbus booked four new orders in January, or two
after adjusting for the A380 cancellations, heralding what is
expected to be a slower year across the industry as airlines
continue to take stock after a longer than expected order cycle.
It delivered 25 aircraft in January.
Airbus net orders fell 32 percent to 731 jets last year. It
is expected to target something closer to 600 this year as new
bookings fall below deliveries for the first time in eight years
in the face of slower demand, especially for bigger jets.
Airbus delivered 688 jets in 2016 and its planemaking
president, Fabrice Bregier, said last month he expected over 700
deliveries in 2017.
Boeing posted 11 orders and received two cancellations
between the start of the year and January 24, the only period
for which 2017 data is available.
(Reporting by Tim Hepher; Editing by Dominique Vidalon)