According to a statement on the group’s website, customers will be able to benefit from increased capacity and enhanced functionality as a result of the initial purchase of 18 aircraft, with the option for a further 18 thereafter. The new aircraft will operate on routes across IAG’s network, as well as providing the ability to target new markets as required.
With the A350, IAG Cargo customers will benefit from the availability of an additional three pallets of cargo space per aircraft, equating to a maximum payload of approximately 30 tonnes. These next-generation aircraft will also provide enhanced functionality, including air conditioning in the cargo bays, which is highly beneficial for the transportation of temperature-sensitive freight including pharmaceuticals travelling under the carrier's Constant Climate product and perishable goods.
The A350-1000 order is part of IAG’s wider fleet modernisation programme, which includes an order for 24 Boeing 787s and options for a further 18, which IAG is planning to convert into firm orders. The B787s are due to come online from 2013 and combined with the A350s will provide IAG Cargo's customers with a stronger array of widebody capacity. Additionally, IAG will be bringing into service 12 Airbus A380s, also from this year.
Steve Gunning, managing director IAG Cargo, commented: “The A350 is an extremely cargo-friendly aircraft, with a size and range that perfectly fits our long-haul network requirements. The aircraft will not only provide additional capacity for our customers but given its fuel efficiency, it also offers a more environmentally friendly way of carrying cargo. This announcement, when taken with our existing orders for B787s and A380s, signals clearly to the market that IAG is planning for future requirements in order to deliver the right capacity and capabilities to support our customers' businesses.”