For Skymark, superjumbo orders show super-timing | FT Alphaville

For Skymark, superjumbo orders show super-timing

Rolls-Royce and European aircraft maker EADS are still reeling from the fallout of recent jet engine failures in their Airbus’ A380 super-jumbos (and for Rolls-Royce an additional incident on a Boeing 747), which saw Qantas ground its entire A380 fleet and Singapore Airlines temporarily suspend A380 flights last week.

But Japan’s biggest low-cost airline, Skymark, clearly knows a thing or two about timing.

As AFP reports on Monday:

Japan’s low-cost carrier Skymark Airlines said Monday it will buy four A380 superjumbos from Airbus, with an option on two more, in a deal worth a total of two billion euros by catalogue price.

“Skymark Airlines signed a basic agreement with Airbus on the introduction of Airbus A380,” Skymark Airlines said in a statement.

“The company plans to sign the contract on purchasing six aircraft, including an option on two aircraft, in the spring of next year.”

The move will make Skymark the first Japanese customer for Airbus’s superjumbo. Bloomberg adds that the carrier, which has no scheduled flights outside Japan, is adding routes and hiring pilots as Japan Airlines, which filed for bankruptcy in January, cuts its service and retires its fleet of Boeing 747s.

The company is in negotiations to sell Skymark four A380s, plus options for two more, the report added.

Monday’s announcement comes after a second Qantas passenger jet was forced on Friday to abort a flight from Singapore because of problems with its Rolls-Royce engine, the day after one of its superjumbos made an emergency landing — also at Singapore’s Changi airport — when its engine failed.

As the FT reported, shares in Rolls-Royce fell 5 per cent for a second consecutive day on Friday after Alan Joyce, Qantas chief executive, said he thought the engine problem on the Airbus A380 was probably due to “a material failure of some sort of design issue” with the engines.

“This is an issue about a Rolls-Royce engine on a relatively new aircraft and a new engine that has developed a problem,” Mr Joyce said. “It’s not a maintenance issue.”

As indelicate as it sounds, in some respects the Boeing 747 scare probably took a bit of pressure off Airbus, though we’re not sure what prospective passengers will make of Skymark’s planned acquisition.

Update: 10.32am (GMT).
For those interested here’s a picture of the escaped turbine disk.

Related links:
Engine failure hits EADS, Rolls-Royce – FT Alphaville
Engine pressures grip Rolls-Royce – FT
Qantas A380 emergency landing - BBC video