"Why would EK cancel orders for A340-600s?
First off, remember that nothing has been decided. EK
still has not placed their larger follow-on -300ER order, nor have they decided to cancel the A346HGW order.
That said, the answer to your question lies in the original decision to split their 350-seat order between the 773ER and the A346HGW. Nay, it goes back even further, to the original RFP. EK
wanted the best performing aircraft possible. It's requirements were very strict. Although I can't give you specifics, EK
wanted a very high payload as well as very high range. At the time, however, they couldn't get both requirements from the same aircraft. The A340-600 had the range (IIRC, Dubai to Chicago was the requirement), but not the payload. The 777-300ER at the time (before flight testing), had the payload, but not the range. Negotiations with the manufacturers began, and these two issues kept being brought up. Meanwhile, the -300ER had finally entered flight testing, and was proving a capable performer. At the same time, Airbus was promising a higher payload if EK
waited for the HGW version. Another issue was price. EK
liked what Boeing was promising with the -300ER, but not the price tag. In fact, Mr. Clark even mentioned EK
wanted to buy the -300ER, but Boeing would not negotiate on the price. Finally, EK
decided to buy 18 A346HGWs and lease 2 more, while at the same time, they would lease 26 773ERs. That way, they had the A340's to cover the longer-range routes with less payload, and the 777s to cover the high-payload routes. Something to note is that delivery of the 777s would begin almost immediately (March 2005), while the A340's wouldn't start arriving until 2007.
Toward the end of the negotiations, and after their conclusion, Boeing kept pushing the payload-range curve of the -300ER. Today, it has a higher official range than the A346 (Airbus has not released numbers for the HGW, but I'm told it's more of a payload increase than a range increase). EIS with AF
have proven well received, as well.
Subsequent to EK
's announcement, they commited to a direct purchase of 4 more -300ERs, as well as 9 options. Now, I have been informed from a source within Boeing that EK
is in talks for the direct purchase/option of 27 more aircraft. Whether or not this pans out or not is anyone's guess. However, the acquisition of such a large number of aircraft prior to the introduction of that aircraft's direct rival does cast doubt on whether or not the A346 order will stand up. But again, that's merely guesstimations, not based on any announcement on behalf of EK
All gave some. Some gave all.