a plane taking off from a runway
Qatar Airways and Airbus Set For Speedy Trial Over A350 Dispute

Aviation Weekly: News and Highlights 17-23 January

Top News and Stories this week:

  • Airbus Implements A350 Design Change Amid Qatar Airways Dispute
  • Lufthansa Makes Offer in Bid to Acquire ITA Airways
  • Delta Adds Los Angeles to Auckland Route
  • Starlux Airbus A350 Enters into Service
  • Air China Reveals Brand New Business Class Cabin on Airbus A350
  • Airbus Books Order from Delta and Uzbekistan Airways
  • Amsterdam Schiphol Finally Set To Relax Passenger Cap

Airbus Implements A350 Design Change Amid Qatar Airways Dispute

Airbus has reportedly implemented design changes on the rear-section parts of its new A350s. The European manufacturer has moved from expanded copper foil (ECF) to perforated copper foil (PCF) for the layering between the carbon fuselage and outer paint on its A350s since late last year.

“PCF is being used on rear-section parts on aircraft delivered from the end of 2022.”

Airbus spokesperson

However, this change has been carried out amid an ongoing $2 billion dispute between Airbus and Qatar Airways over surface damage due to probable design defects. Qatar Airways is reportedly demanding more information about the change as part of its court proceedings.

Qatar Airways Airbus A350
Qatar Airways Airbus A350

Even though PCF was previously under study, it was not added to new aircraft. According to London’s High Court Judge David Waksman, Airbus’ decision to implement the new A350 design is significant to the ongoing case.

Lufthansa Makes Offer in Bid to Acquire ITA Airways

Lufthansa has officially submitted its offer for a minority stake in ITA Airways. Last week, the German carrier submitted its offer to the Italian Ministry of Economy and Finance. However, it did not disclose the size of the stake or the price.

As reported by Reuters, the offer was for a 40% stake in the company. Furthermore, one of the Reuters sources said that it was valued at 200-300 million euros ($540 million).

“The plan is to agree on the initial acquisition of a minority stake as well as on options to purchase the remaining shares at a later date.”


Moreover, Lufthansa said Italy is the most important market outside of its home markets and the United States, highlighting its importance as both a business and tourism destination.

Delta Adds Los Angeles to Auckland Route

Delta Airlines has announced its first-ever route to New Zealand. Starting from October 28, Delta will operate daily flights between Los Angeles International Airport and Auckland International Airport.

Delta will be the only U.S. carrier to offer direct flights between Los Angeles and Auckland. This new long-haul route will complement the airline’s current service from LAX to Sydney, where it operates 10 flights per week in the winter.

Airbus Delivered 57 Airplanes in September

“With brand-new flights this year to cities like Auckland, Geneva and London-Gatwick, we’re giving customers more options to enjoy the premium experience and elevated hospitality they have come to know and expect from us,” said Joe Esposito, Delta’s S.V.P. – Network Planning.

The Airbus A350-900 will be operating the daily flights between Los Angeles and Auckland. Delta’s A350s are configured with 32 seats in Delta One Business, 48 in premium economy, 36 in Delta Comfort, and 190 in the main cabin for a total of 306 seats.

Starlux Airbus A350 Enters into Service

The first two Starlux Airlines Airbus A350s have entered into commercial service. Starting from January 20th, the two A350-900s have been flying daily to Macau and twice daily to Bangkok from its hub at Taipei Taoyuan International Airport.

Moreover, the Taiwanese carrier will deploy its A350s on one of its daily flights to Tokyo starting from March 1st.

Starlux currently has two Airbus A350-900s in its fleet, with a further 16 on order. Each of these Airbus A350s are configured in a four-class configuration with four seats in first class, 26 in business class, 36 in premium economy, and 240 in economy class. However, the first-class suites are not currently bookable on the airline’s website.

Air China Reveals Brand New Business Class Cabin On Airbus A350

Air China has unveiled its new A350 interiors, which feature the Recaro CL6720 seat in Business Class. These new seats will replace the existing Super Diamond seats found on the rest of the A350 fleet with a more condensed seating (LOPA).

a plane with rows of seats
New Business Class Seats Onboard Air China’s A350. Image: Air China

However, these new seats don’t have doors even though the seat design allows for it, although they do have an additional benefit of privacy, thanks to full-height walls.

a row of seats on an airplane
New Business Class Seats Onboard Air China’s A350. Image: Air China
a small table with a screen on it
New Business Class Seats Onboard Air China’s A350. Image: Air China

Airbus Books Order From Delta and Uzbekistan Airways

Delta Air Lines has firmed up an order for twelve more A220-300 aircraft, bringing the airline’s total firm order for A220s to 119 aircraft including 45 A220-100s and 74 A220-300s. Delta took delivery of its first Airbus A220 in October 2018 and was the first U.S. carrier to operate the aircraft type.

Delta currently operates 59 A220 aircraft and throughout the years, it has reordered the A220 four times and is today the largest A220 customer and operator.

“Delta Air Lines was the U.S. launch customer for the A220 and this fourth reorder in just four years by a leading carrier as Delta is a most gratifying endorsement.”

Christian Scherer, Airbus Chief Commercial Officer and Head of International

Moreover, Airbus has also booked orders for a dozen Airbus A320neo family aircraft from Uzbekistan Airways. The flag carrier of the Republic of Uzbekistan has placed a firm order for eight A320neo and four A321neo aircraft.

two airplanes in the sky
Image: Airbus

These A320neos will feature the new Airbus Airspace cabin and the airline is planning to operate its new aircraft to further develop its domestic and international route network.

Amsterdam Schiphol Finally Set To Relax Passenger Cap

Amsterdam’s Schiphol Airport has said that it expects to remove its passenger cap after nine months of capacity restrictions by March 26, the start of the summer season.

From March 26th, the current limitations to the daily number of travellers it can handle will eventually be removed. Even though it still anticipates challenges during the peak morning hours, the airport said that it will have enough employees to handle daily passenger movements.

KLM Cancel Flights

Schiphol has been enforcing a limit on daily passengers since June last year. Later in September, the capacity was cut by almost 20% as passengers faced long lines for security checks amid a shortage of staff.

“I am happy for our travellers, employees and airlines with the progress we have made together. It looks good towards the May holidays. From the start of the 2023 season at the end of March, we will continue to scale up and we will do so in a sensible and phased manner, in the interest of those same travellers, employees and airlines,” said Ruud Sondag, CEO at Amsterdam Schiphol Airport.

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