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Wed, Feb 21, 2007

British Airways Selects More 777s Over A330s

Carrier Goes With Airbus For Narrowbodies

British Airways said its decision Wednesday to purchase four Boeing 777-200ERs to expand its long-haul fleet, instead of going with Airbus's A330, came down to the issue of commonality.

"It was a very close decision between the Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s," said British Airways Commercial Director Robert Boyle to Reuters. "However, the ease of assimilating up to eight aircraft into our existing 777 fleet, rather than having a small number of A330s, swung the balance in Boeing's favor."

British Airways already has 43 Triple-7s in its fleet, Boyle added. "That was the tipping factor."

The four 777s will enter service with British Airways in early 2009. The airline also has options on four more of the long-legged planes, which if taken would be delivered in 2010.

"Boeing is delighted to be part of British Airway's first step in expanding its long-haul fleet," the company stated. British Airways is slated to replace 20 of its older 747s, and 14 767s in the coming years.

In related news, British Airways also placed a firm order Wednesday for four more Airbus A320 narrowbodies. The new order brings the total number of Airbus aircraft in operation in the British Airways fleet to 66, with 14 on firm order.

The aircraft will have 156 seats in a two-class configuration and will be powered by International Aero Engines V2527-A5. British Airways was among the first operators of the A320 when it entered service in 1988.

"Our Airbus A320 fleet serves us well on our shorthaul network from Heathrow so we are pleased to replace aircraft leaving our fleet with new A320s," said Boyle.

Boyle added the next big order for widebody planes would come in the second half of 2007. He added by that time, commonality will be less of an issue... perhaps indicating the carrier is looking between Boeing's new 787 Dreamliner, and Airbus' upcoming A350XWB.

"The competition is still wide open," Boyle said.



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