In the recent months, the Airbus A340-500/-600 program has suffered a series of blows; economic downturn, 11 September terrorist attacks are making some customers try to postpone deliveries.
SIA recently negotiated a nine-month delay of its A340-500 deliveries, orders from SWR/Flightlease have been cancelled and Virgin Atlantic is said trying to find an agreement with Airbus to postpone deliveries of its A340-600s.
Therefore, Cathay Pacific is set to become the initial customer with a lease order of 3 A340-600 from ILFC.
An article in Flight International magazine says that CX is thought to be unhappy with this, quoting an airline’s source: “If it (CX) wanted to be a launch operator it would have signed up as a launch customer.”
On one side, launch customers often get good deals for their orders. On another one, being launch customer of a brand new plane can be headache (see SAS with the Dash Q400).
The A340-600 is mostly a re-engined stretched A340-300; What, in your opinion, could make Cathay so reluctant about becoming a launch customer?