Aer Lingus (EI, Dublin Int'l) is set to convert a standing order with Airbus (AIB, Toulouse Blagnac) for nine A350-900s and replace them with the proposed new regional variant, the A350-900R. Speaking in the United Kingdom last week, CEO Christoph Mueller said the mainline A350-900 aircraft previously ordered offered more performance than Aer Lingus would ever need, and that the regional model was more suitable and cheaper. The first jet would likely be delivered in 2016, he said. The A350-900R is aimed at short to medium haul operators and will involve significant adaptations to its mainstream variant namely: maximum take-off weight will be reduced to around 250 tons from the 268 tons of the standard long-haul version of the A350-900 while engine thrust is expected to be around 70,000lb, compared to 85,000lb for the standard -900 and 97,000lb for the -1000 Rolls-Royce TrentXWB engine.