Air France signs A330 deal to replace A310/767 fleet

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Julian Moxon/PARIS

Air France has finalised its long-awaited medium capacity fleet renewal plans, with an order for up to 13 Airbus A330-200s.

The order, worth about $1.5 billion, includes eight firm orders and five options, and provides the airline with a replacement for its medium-range fleet of 10 Airbus A310s and five Boeing 767-300s. The 767-400ER had been evaluated before the A330's selection. Deliveries will begin in early 2001.

Air France has selected the General Electric CF6 to power the aircraft, providing the launch order for the latest version of the engine, the 72,000lb-thrust (320kN) -80E1A3. The new variant incorporates three-dimensional aerodynamic design improvements and a new longer-life, high-pressure "boltless" turbine initially developed for the 767-400's CF6-80C2B7F/ B8F.

Air France says the decision will help rationalise its fleet of 213 aircraft, which before the A330-200 decision numbered 12 types. According to Airbus, the new order is not linked to the 10 deferred GE-powered A330-300s ordered by Air Inter (now part of Air France) that the consortium holds on its books from 1989. Airbus claims the old contract "forms no part of the A330-200 order, which is new business". The A330-300 contract is "still valid", but Airbus admits the aircraft will never be delivered.