BA 747-400

UK-based International Consolidated Airlines (IAG) is in talks with Airbus to purchase the new long-range A350 jetliner for its British Airways unit and may place an order as soon as this week.

If a final decision is made on the deal, it would be a major boost for Airbus over its rival Boeing, which is trying to sell the next version of its 777 wide-body aircraft, dubbed the 777X, to British Airways.

However, the exact number of aeroplanes to be ordered and the value of the contract are still under negotiation, reports The Wall Street Journal.

The new A350 aircraft will replace the company’s ageing fleet of 747-400 airliners, which were delivered between 1989 and 1999.

IAG’s negotiations with Airbus focus on the larger A350-1000 variant. However, the deal could also include longer-range A350-900 aircraft, the sources added.

Powered by new-generation Rolls-Royce Trent XWB engines, the A350-1000 will feature the latest in aerodynamics, design and advanced technologies to provide 25% greater fuel efficiency compared with its existing long-range competitor, according to Airbus.

"The new A350 aircraft will replace the company’s ageing fleet of 747-400 airliners."

British Airways currently operates 52 of the existing versions of the long-range 777 and flies no Airbus long-range, twin-aisle jets.

The airline is expected to receive its first Airbus A380 superjumbo airliner from the order placed alongside its Boeing 787 Dreamliner in 2007.

Founded in 2011, IAG was formed by the merger of British Airways with Spain’s Iberia.

Iberia’s fleet comprises entirely of Airbus aeroplanes, while British Airways’ short and medium-haul European fleet includes all-Airbus variants and its twin-aisle long-range aircraft have been Boeing jets over the past decade.

Image: A British Airways’ 747-400 aircraft. Photo: courtesy of British Airways.

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