|Published : 25 Nov 2016, 21:06:23|
Ghost airplane attends banquet for new Airbus jet
TOULOUSE, France, Nov 25 (Reuters): Airbus presented dignitaries and media assembled for the debut of its latest model with an unexpected sight on Thursday: a white-painted $300-million A350 jetliner being prepared for delivery without an airline livery, breaking an industry taboo.
So-called white-tails are considered an alarm signal in the aerospace industry because they usually signify that they have been built without an airline in place to operate them, though in rare cases buyers can decide to paint them elsewhere.
Because of past downturns, planemakers have learned to build only what they have sold so nowadays the sight of a white plane, especially a recent model like the A350, is extremely rare.
In this case, the aircraft has been sold to one of the world's largest leasing companies, AerCap, according to online records of the serial number on the tail.
AerCap had arranged to lease it to SriLankan Airlines but its fate was thrown into doubt when the carrier said this year it had cancelled a lease for 4 A350s from AerCap and no longer intended to buy a further 4 from Airbus due to steep losses.
The Dublin-based lessor is unlikely to be out of pocket since the Sri Lankan government said last month it would pay millions of dollars for cancelling the lease.
But industry sources said the flexible white design raised questions about where the aircraft was headed next, which in turn echoed deeper concerns about a drop in demand for big jets.
Some online reports, however, say the jet is headed for China.
A spokeswoman for AerCap declined to comment.