FI2008: Tunisair firms order for A350s, A330s and A320s

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Middle Eastern carrier Tunisair has firmed an order for 16 Airbus aircraft comprising three A350 XWBs, three A330-200s and 10 A320s, a deal which also includes three optioned jets.

The Tunis-based airline signed a letter of acceptance for the fleet renewal in April but firmed its commitment at the Farnborough air show today.

Tunisair chief executive Nabil Chettaoui said, during a press event at the show, that the order was a “sign of confidence despite the difficult environment”.

It will take the A320s between 2011 and 2016. Two of the A330s will arrive in 2012, and the third in 2013. Its first two A350s will be delivered in 2018, the third in 2019.

Tunisair is to hold a competitive tender for the A330 and A320 powerplants. Although Tunisair’s current A320 fleet has CFM International CFM56s, senior vice-president Mohamed Thamri says the airline will “not necessarily” opt for the same engine.

The carrier’s agreement also includes options on a single A350 and two A320s.

Thamri adds that there is a “relationship” between order, worth around $2 billion at list prices, and a recent French-Tunisian trade agreement which is expected to lead to Tunisian manufacturing of aerospace components.