British Midland selects A330 for US services

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British Midland (BM) has chosen the Airbus A330-200 for its planned US services, and concluded a deal to take up to 12 aircraft.

The selection of the 250-seat Airbus widebody follows an evaluation of the similarly sized Boeing 767-400ER. The airline declines to comment on the order.

BM - which recently added Lufthansa to its list of shareholders - has placed firm orders for four A330-200s, with deliveries beginning early next year, and options on a further eight aircraft.

An engine selection has not been finalised, with General Electric, Pratt & Whitney and Rolls-Royce all believed to be still in the running for the work.

The aircraft are being acquired for BM's planned new transatlantic services from London Heathrow and Manchester. It is understood that, although the order has been signed, it will not be made public until after the latest round of US-UK bilateral talks later this month.

BM managing director Sir Michael Bishop said last November that although there is an "internal timetable" for Manchester long-haul services, the airline is "not keen to start making large investments in regional long-haul services until we see how the bigger [bilateral] picture develops". It is understood that BM expects to be cleared to serve two US East Coast points by early next year.

Meanwhile, BM confirms that its is finalising a deal to take over the five British Aerospace 146s previously operated by defunct low-cost airline Debonair from Munich on Lufthansa CityLine's behalf. "We expect to announce it shortly," says the airline.