British Airways today announced an order for 12 new 100 seat Airbus A318s, a further component of the airline`s short haul fleet and network strategy for the new millennium.
The list price of these firm orders totals £285million. The agreement with Airbus provides considerable flexibility including options on another 12 A318s.
The new aircraft, powered by Pratt and Whitney PW 6000 engines, will be delivered from the European manufacturer Airbus Industrie from January 2003.
The move to the new, smaller A318 is the final step in the airline`s forward looking fleet strategy which will modernise the carrier`s fleet, increase yields and reduce capacity.
The Airbus jet was chosen by British Airways for its superior economics, flexibility and commonality with the rest of the carrier`s short haul fleet.
The airline began the modernisation of its domestic and European fleet last year, when it ordered 20 A320s and 39 A319s, part of the same family as the new A318s.
The jet will offer more flexibility with crews and maintenance and will allow the airline to respond more effectively to changing market conditions by making substitution of aircraft on short haul routes easier.
This smaller aircraft enjoys the same interior features as the airline`s bigger Airbuses and benefits from a flexible seating configuration allowing more the carrier to focus more effectively on its premium passengers and, in line with its fleet strategy, compete more effectively in the most profitable sectors of the market.
Underpinning this fleet refinement is an investment of more than £6 billion in British Airways biggest ever programme of improvements for premium passengers, including an innovative re-design of its new Club Europe cabin, launched last month.
The A318s will operate on both domestic and European routes, and will, in part, replace Boeing 757s which will be disposed of over the next three years. Disposal proceeds will off set the cost of investment in the new aircraft.
Bob Ayling, British Airways Chief Executive, said: “Our new order of Airbus A318s completes the refinement of our fleet, a process which began in 1997 with changes to our long haul aircraft.
“We recognised then the need to reduce capacity through fleet and network changes, but also to protect the opportunity for growth in the longer term.
“Our lower costs and modern aircraft like the A318 give British Airways the flexibility to emerge from current difficult market conditions in good shape”.