BA fleet renewal to begin with up to eight 777-200ERs in place of A330s, for delivery from 2009

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British Airways (BA) has ordered four Boeing 777-200ERs and taken four options in the first phase of a planned long-haul fleet modernisation.

The Oneworld alliance carrier says in a statement that the four firm-ordered aircraft are due for delivery early in 2009 while the options, if exercised, will be delivered in 2010.

“It was a close decision between the Boeing 777s and Airbus A330s. 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 favour,” says commercial director Robert Boyle.

“We are confident of a similarly competitive approach from both manufacturers as we move towards our major long-haul fleet renewal and expansion order later this year.”

BA says talks are taking place with General Electric and Rolls-Royce about engines for the 777-200ERs.

It is also continuing to assess the Airbus A330, A350 and A380, as well as the 787, 777 and 747-8 for a major widebody order which it has been looking at since October. It has said it plans to order upwards of 50 aircraft to replace Boeing 767s and older 747-400s.

The refleet had been subject to fevered speculation for the past two days in aviation internet discussion sites such as FleetBuzz, after comments made in an investors' conference call, open to ordinary shareholders, hinted at the deal.