Emirates is close to deciding whether to pursue a new delivery of the A350 or go with the B787 after nearly a two year evaluation process, reports Aviation International News (AIN).

The Gulf carrier originally placed an order for 50 A350-900s and 20 A350-1000s in 2007, but cancelled it in 2014 following Airbus’ decision to equip the aircraft with a new version of Rolls Royce’s Trent engine.

However, Emirates’ chief executive Tim Clark could now be leaning towards the Airbus model, reportedly favouring the A350-900 over the A350-1000 as its typical capacity of 325 seats would serve as a good replacement for the airline’s ageing A330, A340 and B777-200 aircraft.

Looking ahead, the Gulf carrier is also said to be interested in the possibility of a future stretched variant of the A350. This model, which would eclipse the size and range of the A350-1000, could fill the capacity gap between Emirates’ A380s and B777-300ERs.

Another carrier that has shown interest in pursuing the “A350-2000” model is Cathay Pacific, which recently took delivery of its first A350-900. While the Hong Kong-based carrier has 26 A350-1000s on order, it is also talking to Airbus about an even larger variant of the A350 – one that would allow it to fly non-stop to southeastern US destinations, with Miami touted as a possible destination.

Airbus’ strategy and marketing executive vice president Kiran Rao confirmed that the company is talking to a number of airlines about the possibility of adding even more capacity and range to its A350.

The beauty of the A350 is its ability to grow,” he said to AIN, noting that doing so “would not need the work Boeing had to do to go from the 777-300 to the planned 777X.”

For more information, visit emirates.com and cathaypacific.com

Clement Huang