Always thinking ahead, United Airlines will offer a select group of VIP customers, airline employees and media a sneak peek on Friday of a new plane —the Airbus 350 — that won't even enter its fleet until 2018.
That's right. Another three years — unless the new model plane is delayed, which always is a possibility in the unpredictable airline and airplane manufacturing industries.
But the new Airbus 350 is of great interest to many road warriors who fly regularly or who run airlines. Developed by Chicago-based Boeing Co.'s archival Airbus, the wide-body A-350 was designed to compete against Boeing's still-relatively new, but popular Boeing 787.
As is now well-known, the Boeing 787 was plagued by delays before its debut, and plagued even further after its debut by problems relating to its lithium ion batteries. United already flies around a dozen Boeing 787 aircraft, primarily on international flights to Asian markets.
So far, the A-350 rollout has been relatively smooth. Qatar Airways, the launch customer for the A-350, began flying the plane in December of last year.
United Airlines has ordered 35 of the planes and will be the launch customer for the aircraft in North America. United's A-350s are expected to be configured with a premium business cabin and an economy cabin, though a United spokesman said no final decisions have yet been made about the layout of its A-350s.
United employees, invited guests and others are getting a very early sneak look at the A-350 because the airplane is en route to the annual Oshkosh air show in Wisconsin that starts a week from today.
(Lewis Lazare - Chicago Business Journal)