British Airways confirmed this week that it had placed an order for up to 24 of the new A318 Airbus, which could be worth as much as £570m in total. BA said it ordered 12 A318s at a list price of £285m with an option on another dozen.
`The Airbus was chosen for its superior economics, flexibility and commonality with the rest of our short-haul fleet,’ BA said.
Delivery of the aircraft will begin in January 2003. BA will use the A318s on both domestic and European routes.
This is the second order BA has placed with Airbus. In 1998 it bought 59 Airbus A319 and A320 airliners from the same family of smaller regional airliners.
As a 20% partner in Airbus, British Aerospace supplies all the wings for Airbus airliners and stands to make £114m from the deal if the option is taken up.
BA’s purchase of the A318 brings to 157 the number of orders and commitments for the new type, less than six months after the plane’s formal launch, Airbus said. The eight other A318 buyers include International Lease Finance Corporation and GATX Flight Lease.
Last week, Boeing agreed to buy back 34 old Boeing 757s from BA, raising expectations that the US company might win BA’s order for regional airliners with its 717 model. The ex-BA 757s will be turned into cargo aircraft and sold to DHL.
* Aerospatiale Matra, the French partner in Airbus with a 37.9% stake, and Germany’s Dasa, with a 42.1% share, have not confirmed reports that they will merge.
If the merger took place it would leave BAe as the minority partner in Airbus. In June Dasa chief executive Manfred Bischoff said Aerospatiale Matra was `the natural partner’ for Dasa, apart from the obstacle of the French government’s stake in the company.