Etihad Airways firms up order for seven Airbus A350F freighters

A350F Etihad Cargo. Photo: Airbus

Etihad Airways has firmed up its order with Airbus for seven new generation A350F freighters as it looks to meet ongoing cargo demand growth.

The carrier announced its intention to order the aircraft at the Singapore Airshow in February but today confirmed the deal.

Tony Douglas, group chief executive, Etihad Aviation Group, said: “In building one of the world’s youngest and most sustainable fleets, we are delighted to extend our long-term partnership with Airbus to add the A350 freighter to our fleet. This additional cargo capacity will support the unprecedented growth we are experiencing in the Etihad Cargo division.

“Airbus has developed a remarkable fuel-efficient aircraft that, in tandem with the A350-1000 in our passenger fleet, supports our commitment to reaching net-zero carbon emissions by 2050.”

Christian Scherer, chief commercial officer and head of Airbus International, added: “Airbus is delighted to extend its long standing partnership with Etihad Airways, who recently introduced the A350 passenger services and is continuing to build on the Family with the game-changing freighter version, the A350F.

“This new generation large freighter brings unprecedented and unmatched benefits in terms of range, fuel efficiency and CO₂ savings, that support customers by enhancing operational efficiencies at the same time as reducing environmental impact.”

The 109 tonne capacity aircraft features a large maindeck cargo door, with its fuselage length and capacity optimised around the industry’s standard pallets and containers.

The A350F fully meets ICAO’s enhanced CO₂ emissions standards that will come into effect in 2027 and will be powered by Rolls-Royce Trent XWB-97 engines.

More than 70% of the airframe of the A350F is made of advanced materials, resulting in a 30 tonne lighter take-off weight and generating at least 20% lower fuel consumption and emissions over its current closest competitor, said Airbus. 

The freighter move comes as the airline has seen its cargo revenues grow rapidly over the last couple of years.

Earlier this week, Etihad Cargo reported a first-half increase in cargo revenues despite a drop in volumes as a result of a ramp-up of passenger operations.

The Abu Dhabi-headquartered airline reported cargo revenues of $802m in the first half of 2022, representing an increase of 6% on the same period last year, despite a 19% drop in freight carried to 295,020 tonnes as an increase in passenger volumes limited bellyhold capacity.

The cargo arm contributed 35% of the Etihad group’s overall operating revenues.

The UAE-based carrier has also firmed up a long term agreement for Airbus’ Flight Hour Services (FHS) to support its entire A350 fleet, to maintain aircraft performance and optimise reliability. This marks the first agreement for an Airbus FHS contract for an A350-fleet in the Middle East.

Separately, Etihad has also opted for Airbus’ Skywise Health Monitoring,  allowing the airline to access real-time management of aircraft events and troubleshooting, saving time and decreasing the cost of unscheduled maintenance.

Lessor Air Lease became the A350F launch customer in November 2021, placing a provisional order for seven of the freighters.

In February, Singapore Airlines finalised a purchase agreement with Airbus for seven A350F freighters.

Other recent orders of the A350F have been from CMA CGM and Air France-KLM.


Etihad to buy A350F bundle

Singapore Airlines finalises purchase of 7 A350Fs

CMA CGM firms up A350F order

Airbus secures another A350F order

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Rebecca Jeffrey

Rebecca Jeffrey
New to aviation journalism, I joined Air Cargo News in late 2021 as deputy editor. I previously worked for Mercator Media’s six maritime sector magazines as a reporter, heading up news for Port Strategy. Prior to this, I was editor for Recruitment International (now TALiNT International). Contact me on: [email protected]