British Airways is to switch its current aircraft order with Airbus to receive 10 A321 aircraft instead of 12 A318 aircraft and three A319 aircraft.
The airline’s capital spend with Airbus for the orders placed in 1998 and 1999 remains unchanged.
The 108-seater A318s and the 126-seater A319s were ordered originally to be based at regional airports in the UK. However, as part of its fleet simplification strategy, British Airways’ has decided to base its Airbus fleet at London’s Heathrow and Gatwick airports and re-deploy its fleet of 16 110-seater RJ100 aircraft from Gatwick to the British Airways CitiExpress fleet at regional airports.
As the Airbus fleet will now be based in London, switching the order to A321s, which can have up to 195 seats, enables the airline to use the larger aircraft on high density routes from Heathrow to continental Europe.
The A321s, which are powered by IAE V2500 series engines, will be delivered between September 2004 and December 2005.
Martin George, British Airways’ director of marketing and commercial development, said: “The A321s will give us more flexibility to match aircraft size to market demand and the order switch has no impact on our capital commitments. Taking the A321 fits with our fleet simplification agenda since it has very similar crewing and engineering requirements to the rest of our Airbus fleet.
“Once the last A321 is delivered in December 2006, our shorthaul fleet capacity at Heathrow will be smaller by 15 per cent compared with 1999.”
British Airways entered into agreements with Airbus in August 1998 and October 1999 for shorthaul aircraft. The on-going delivery programme, which started in September 1999, will see the airline receive 36 A319s, 20 A320s and 10 A321s by 2006.