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Airbus adjusts entry of 1st A350 freighter to 2026

Aerospace companies are delivering fewer planes than forecast because of supply challenges

Airbus says the A350 freighter will weigh 30 tons less than the current Boeing 777 freighter due to its composite fuselage and center wing box. (Rendering: Airbus)

Airbus said in Wednesday’s earnings report that it has pushed back the first delivery of the all-new A350 freighter into 2026. 

No reason was given for the adjusted timetable, but aircraft manufacturers have been dealing with difficulties sourcing materials and hiring personnel. Engine-makers are struggling to make enough engines and provide spares to replace engines that are wearing out faster than expected.

Airbus (DXE: AIR) said the first A350 components were recently produced at its plant in Nantes, France. 

“We are in the execution of the program, we are in the development phase, we are starting the initialization of the product, so we are updating constantly the planning and what we have said today reflects a slight slippage of the overall planning,” said Interim CFO Xavier Tardy during the earnings presentation.

Launch customer Qatar Airways was supposed to receive the first freighter in late 2025, but the entry into service has now slipped several months.

Airbus has 35 firm orders for the A350, including from CMA CGM Air Cargo, Etihad Airways, Air France/KLM, Silkway West Airlines and Singapore Airlines. 

Boeing is also developing a next-generation large freighter based on the 777 model. The program has faced several years of delays and must still be certified by U.S. aviation regulators.

Airbus says its large freighter will have 30 tons less maximum takeoff weight than either the legacy or future Boeing 777, which will save fuel and airport landing fees.

Airbus posted first-quarter adjusted quarterly operating earnings of 773 million euros ($854 million), down 39% year over year, as revenues dipped 2%. It delivered 127 aircraft in the first quarter and maintained its goal of delivering about 720 planes to airlines or other customers by the end of the year. 

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Eric Kulisch

Eric is the Supply Chain and Air Cargo Editor at FreightWaves. An award-winning business journalist with extensive experience covering the logistics sector, Eric spent nearly two years as the Washington, D.C., correspondent for Automotive News, where he focused on regulatory and policy issues surrounding autonomous vehicles, mobility, fuel economy and safety. He has won two regional Gold Medals and a Silver Medal from the American Society of Business Publication Editors for government and trade coverage, and news analysis. He was voted best for feature writing and commentary in the Trade/Newsletter category by the D.C. Chapter of the Society of Professional Journalists. In December 2022, he was voted runner up for Air Cargo Journalist by the Seahorse Freight Association. As associate editor at American Shipper Magazine for more than a decade, he wrote about trade, freight transportation and supply chains. Eric is based in Portland, Oregon. He can be reached for comments and tips at [email protected]