A350 replacing A340-300 / 777-200ER, still on with lower fuel prices?

By Bjorn Fehrm

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Introduction

June 7, 2015, c. Leeham Co. We have just rounded off a series of articles around how A350 is to fly, its systems approach and lastly the conversion of Finnair’s A340/A330 pilots to A350. Finnair will replace the airlines A340-300 with the A350-900.

A question that comes up is how much more efficient is the A350 that is delivered to these airlines, and does the investment still make sense with today’s lower fuel prices? To get an answer we took the two customers that will get their A350 within the next months, Vietnam Airlines and Finnair, and we compared A350-900 to the aircraft that it will replace in their fleets, Boeing 777-200ER for Vietnam Air and Airbus A340-300 for Finnair.

We used our proprietary model to fly these aircraft over some typical routes for the airline’s, for Vietnam Airlines Saigon-London and for Finnair Helsinki-Shanghai.

Summary:

  • The present aircraft are over 20% less efficient than A350 on these routes.
  • For the A340 it is the engines which are the culprit, for the 777-200ER the wing.
  • With a realistic fuel price for the planning period the differences in efficiency are large enough to motivate the switch.

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