Airbus SE is set to announce a second order for its upcoming A350 freighter as soon as Friday, people familiar with the matter said, building on a debut deal at the Dubai Airshow earlier this week.
Talks with the customer, a cargo company, are ongoing and a formal agreement could be imminent, said the people, who asked not to be named because a deal isn’t final. They declined to discuss the identity of the buyer or the size of the order.
Airbus declined to comment ahead of any customer announcement.
The European planemaker this week sealed its first tentative order for the modified version of the twin-engine A350 with leasing giant Air Lease Corp., and a follow-up this quickly would be a positive sign for the model’s sales momentum. A deal would also steal a march on U.S. arch rival Boeing Co., which is preparing to launch an all-cargo version of its 777x widebody.
Shares of Airbus were down 0.8% at 9:43 a.m. in Paris, after dropping as much as 1.3% earlier.
Both Airbus, based in Toulouse, France, and Chicago-based Boeing were said to be hunting for freighter orders in Dubai, with sales executives schmoozing the same small circle of potential buyers. Airbus is the only one to get order commitments so far, though Qatar Airways Chief Executive Officer Akbar Al Baker said this week he is weighing a Boeing offer.
Air Lease signed a letter of intent to take as many as seven of the A350 model.
Airbus plans to aggressively pursue its rival’s dominance in the freighter market. The company got board approval to launch the jet in late July and opted to move ahead without customers lined up, while continuing to woo potential targets.
The planemaker plans to bring the jet into service by 2025 and those briefed on it say it has a 109-ton payload and the range to cruise the Pacific Ocean.
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