United may cancel order for 42 Airbus aircraft

by PanAm on August 11, 2008

United Airlines may cancel an order for 42 Airbus aircraft, forfeiting a $91 million deposit and possibly heralding a wave of deferrals and cancellations for the major plane makers as their customers scale back growth plans.

The airline, one of Airbus’ best U.S. customers, is currently committed to pay $2.2 billion for the purchase of 42 A319 and A320 single-aisle aircraft. If it does cancel the order, United would forfeit the advance deposit paid to Airbus.

Some analysts have said Airbus, a unit of Europe’s EADS, and rival Boeing could lose a quarter or more of the plane orders on their books as carriers cut back growth plans in the face of high fuel costs.

Airbus has had 43 order cancellations so far this year, according to its website, but some of those are accounted for by shifts to a new version of its A350 model. It said earlier this year that U.S. low-cost carrier JetBlue Airways will defer some deliveries.

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