ALAFCO, the Kuwait-based international aircraft leasing company, is to acquire 12 Airbus A350s with options on a further six, becoming one of the first leasing companies to select the new jetliner.

Deliveries of ALAFCO’s A350-800s are due to begin in the third quarter of 2012.

“In acquiring the new Airbus A350, we are investing in emerging technologies that will set the character of the industry’s future,” says ALAFCO Chairman and CEO Ahmed Alzabin. “Our studies show that the A350, which will carry the Airbus hallmarks of cabin comfort and economy into a new decade, is the right aircraft for many of our customers in the Middle East and around the world.”

ALAFCO has a diversified portfolio of commercial aircraft that includes the A320 and A300/A310 Families. Its main shareholder is Kuwait Finance House.

“Sustained growth in Middle East traffic plus a commitment to the long-term mean that ALAFCO is well placed to profit from increasing demand for our new Airbus A350,” says Airbus President and Chief Executive Officer Noël Forgeard. “And in featuring technologies and techniques that we pioneered on the Airbus A380, the A350 benefits from an impeccable pedigree.”

Airbus’ new A350 comes in two versions – the A350-800 selected by ALAFCO, which can fly 253 passengers up to 8,800 nm/16,300 km, and the larger A350-900, which can seat 300 passengers on ranges of up 7,500 nm/13,900 km. Both versions feature the best economy in their class, as well as the lowest maintenance costs.

Both versions also feature a more spacious passenger-pleasing cabin with larger windows and greater headroom. In addition, passengers will be able to benefit from other Airbus advances, such as email connectivity and mood-lighting.

With a new composite wing and a fuselage made of aluminium-lithium, which give it an airframe comprising up to 60 per cent new materials, plus a new cabin and up to 90 per cent new manufacturing part-numbers, the A350 will have an unassailable advantage when it comes to fuel consumption and seat-mile costs – as well as cash operating costs. The A350 will also retain full operational commonality with the current Airbus widebody long-range fleet by keeping most of their systems, allowing it to benefit from the “family effect”, complementing the current leading A330/A340 family, with which it shares the same type-rating.

Airbus is an EADS joint company with BAE Systems.