Finnair has signed a Letter of Intent (LOI) for five Airbus A321s equipped with new, fuel-saving ‘Sharklet’ winglets, becoming the first airline to commit to the aircraft with the wingtip devices.
The Sharklets reduce aerodynamic drag and offer the airline a 4 percent fuel saving on certain routes compared with today’s aircraft, Airbus says.
The commitment is part of an effort by Finnair to make its fleet more cost-efficient. Deliveries of the new aircraft are scheduled to begin in 2013.
“Finnair sees the new ‘Sharklets’ option as a significant jump ahead in terms of fuel-burn savings, reduced maintenance costs and payload-range performance improvement,” says Mika Vehvilainen, Finnair’s president and chief executive officer. “This option enables us to harmonise all our medium- haul operations. We would also benefit further from the unique commonality aspects of the Airbus family cockpit, such as lower pilot and maintenance training costs.”
John Leahy, Airbus’s chief operating officer for customers, welcomes the airline’s move. “We are pleased that, despite the difficult economic environment and the challenges faced by European airlines, Finnair had the courage to look ahead and take a definitive step towards greener aviation,” Leahy says. “We have been working in close cooperation with Finnair since 1998, and this is not the first time Finnair has shared a first with us. Our Finnish partners were the first to make a firm order for 11 A350 XWB aircraft in 2007.”
Finnair now operates 41 Airbus aircraft, including 29 A320-family models and 12 A330s/A340s.
Airbus says the Sharklets are expected to result in at least 3.5 percent reduced fuel burn over longer sectors, corresponding to an annual CO2 reduction of around 700 tonnes per aircraft.
Airbus has sold more than 6,500 A320-family aircraft and delivered more than 4,300 to some 310 customers worldwide.