China’s Sichuan Airlines has signed a purchase agreement with Airbus for 10 Airbus A350-900s. The deal, still subject to government approval and valued at 200 billion yuan ($31.56 billion), amounts to the largest aircraft signing ever by the Chengdu-based airline.

Meanwhile, Sichuan Airlines awaits its first A350-900 of three leased from AerCap and another from Air Lease Corporation. The four airframes were destined for the debt ridden SriLankan Airlines, which canceled its order last year. The first Sichuan A350-900 (MSN 52) appeared in September 2017 with a panda livery and has completed three test flights. Last September, Sichuan signed for Airbus’s Flight Hour Services (FHS) and Airbus Real Time Health Monitoring Service (AiRTHM) to provide components and predictive maintenance support for the A350.

Sichuan Airlines expects the A350 to serve the so-called “Panda Route,” attracting tourists and passengers to Sichuan province, the home of China’s giant pandas. The airline also told Chinese media that the aircraft would increase its competitiveness in the international market, and has applied for nonstop service from Chengdu to Los Angeles.

Partially owned by the provincial government as well by China Southern, China Eastern, and Shandong Airlines, Sichuan ranks as the largest Airbus operator in China, flying more than 130 aircraft, including A320neos, A321s, and A330-200/300s, which carry out most of its long-haul flights to Moscow, Vancouver, and Auckland. It has also placed a firm order for 20 Comac C919 narrowbodies.  

 

Source: AIN online / FEB2018

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