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Finnair to buy Airbus A350s for long-haul routes

Finnair Oyj, Finland’s 83-year-old state-controlled airline, said it ordered two Airbus SAS A350 XWB aircraft models and plans to buy seven Airbus A330s or A340s to accelerate replacement of Boeing Co. MD-11 airliners.

Finnair Oyj will have the twin-engine A330s and four-engine A340s in service by 2010, with the choice of models „based on need,” and four more may be delivered under an option placed in 2005, the Vantaa, Finland-based airline said in a stock exchange announcement. The A350 contract brings the carrier’s total orders and options for that model to 15 planes, Finnair said.

The A340s and A330s will be configured with about 270 seats each, with the four-engine model used on longer-range routes that also serve cargo customers, Finnair said. The planes will replace the MD-11s by 2010, and the A350 XWBs, a model that Airbus is still developing, will go into service after 2014. The airline already has four A340s on order that are being delivered this year and next, it said.

„The program can be used to increase Finnair’s long-haul fleet to 15 aircraft by the end of 2010,” with the Boeing Co. models replaced by then, Finnair CEO Jukka Hienonen said. „We can ensure our Asian growth with competitive aircraft.” Finnair picked Rolls-Royce Group Plc’s Trent engine for the A350s, the engine-maker said in a separate statement. The order is worth $600 million, Rolls-Royce said. (Bloomberg)