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Emirates Airlines scratches Airbus A350 order

Emirates Airlines has cancelled its entire order for Airbus A350 wide-body long-haul jets. It's a significant setback for European aircraft maker Airbus and could be a boost to US-based Boeing, the main rival to Airbus.

After ten years in development, the Airbus A350 wide-body long-haul is due to achieve certification by aviation authorities before the end of 2014. Airlines around the world had filled

Airbus order books

with agreements to purchase more than eight hundred A350s over the next several years.

Now the order book is seventy jets and $21.6 billion smaller. Dubai-based Emirates Airlines announced after a review of its fleet requirement plans that has cancelled its entire order of A350s. The order had been placed in 2007, and the first deliveries were scheduled for 2019. Emirates Airlines President Tim Clark had been a critic of the A350 as overweight and over-late in its delivery schedule, with delays caused by the challenges of developing all-new carbon-fiber fuselage technology and new, more efficient Rolls Royce engines.

Watch video 00:53

Airbus A350 deliveries to be delayed

The A350 is the main emerging competition

to the Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which entered service in late 2011, and is also made with new-generation composite materials. The Dreamliner was in turn designed as a challenger to the Airbus 330, which Airbus will continue to produce until at least 2020.

Emirates has not yet announced whether it will order Dreamliners to replace the cancelled A350 order, or some other aircraft -- but even if it does, analysts don't expect this setback to stall the long-term success of the A350. Emirates recently ordered

fifty A380s

, the biggest Airbus, and CEO Tim Clark has said the big aircraft exceeded expectations. Airbus and Boeing are set to continue their tit-for-tat rivalry.

jnz/uhe (dpa, AFP)

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