Joe Sims/MIAMI

TAM expects to take delivery of its first two Airbus A330s by the end of the month after a delay of over a month caused by a currency crisis in Brazil.

The carrier, based in Sao Paulo, had been due to receive its first of five Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered A330-200s last month, but deliveries were put on hold because of financing problems caused by the spread of the economic turmoil in Asia to Brazil and other Latin American countries.

The USA and the International Monetary Fund are working on an economic package that will include up to $30 billion in credits for Brazil's battered economy. In return, Brazil is introducing a fiscal austerity plan of budget cuts and tax hikes aimed at slowing dollar flows out of the country. It is understood that the anticipation of these measures hampered financing by Brazilian banks for the airline's Airbus purchase.

"There were two financing options, one with Brazilian banks and the other with Airbus Industrie itself," says TAM. "Because of red tape, we have decided to use the second option."

Airbus confirms that deliveries should begin shortly, and final details are being negotiated with the airline.

The A330s were ordered last year to enable the regional carrier to expand its network, adding destinations in the USA and Europe, as well as for domestic flights between Sao Paulo, Recife, and Fortaleza. The first two aircraft will allow TAM's Miami route to begin and its remaining three firmly ordered A330s will be delivered by April 1999 to support a second international route to Paris.

TAM's fleet is made up of short haul types including Fokker 50 and F27 turboprops, and Fokker 100 jets. Earlier this year, the airline placed orders for 38 A320 family aircraft, deliveries of which are scheduled to start next March.

Source: Flight International