SINGAPORE – Singapore Airlines said Wednesday it will buy 20 Boeing 787-9 aircraft for $4.52 billion, hours after it expressed unhappiness about delays in Airbus' delivery of its A380 superjumbo.
In a statement, the carrier said it has purchase rights for another 20 aircraft from Chicago-based Boeing (BA).
The decision is a stinging blow for Airbus, which hoped Singapore Airlines would be one of the first and biggest customers for another new model, the A350, that would compete directly with Boeing's 787. But airline and leasing company dissatisfaction with the design of the A350 has led Airbus to consider a costly redesign of the plane, delaying its launch for several years.
Boeing shares rose $2.02, or 2.6 percent, in pre-market trading after the news. Shares of Airbus' majority owner, European Aeronautic Defense & Space Co., lost almost 27 percent to 18.52 euros ($23.24) in afternoon trading.
"The decision to purchase the 787-9 is the culmination of an extensive evaluation of the performance characteristics and operating economics promised for the different versions of Boeing's new 787 aircraft," the statement said. According to the statement, the aircraft can carry up to 290 passengers on routes up to 10,000 miles, allowing airlines to reduce the number of stopovers.
It also added that deliveries will be scheduled between early 2011 and mid-2013, and will be for "fleet renewal as well as to cater for growth."
Earlier Wednesday, the airline said it may seek compensation from Airbus for yet another delivery snag for its A380 superjumbo, after the European manufacturer announced delays for the jet's rollout.
Singapore Airlines was the first carrier to buy the $300 million superjumbo, ordering 10 of the double-decker jets with an option to purchase another 15.
Airbus had previously said it would deliver two of the jets before the end of 2006. But Airbus on Tuesday said deliveries of its 555-passenger aircraft could be delayed by up to seven months due to production line bottlenecks.
Singapore Airlines plans to deploy the 787-9 aircraft on routes to North Asia, the Indian subcontinent and the Middle East.