By Leithen Francis in Singapore

Fiji’s national carrier Air Pacific expects to make an engine selection by the end of the year for the five Boeing 787-9s it ordered today. The carrier also confiems it will lease additional 767-300s for the interim until the 787s are delivered from 2011.

“Engine selection will follow a competitive tender from the two suppliers”, Rolls-Royce and General Electric, and “a decision will be made in late 2006”, Air Pacific says in a statement announcing its order for five 787-9s with options for three more.

The five 787-9s on firm order will enter service in 2011 and 2012, says Air Pacific, adding that the aircraft will have 320 passenger seats in two-class configuration and will be fitted with in-flight entertainment systems.

Air Pacific, which is 46%-owned by Australia’s Qantas, also says the 787-9s will operate on all routes currently served by its two Boeing 747-400s and one 767-300ER, adding that that these aircraft “will be returned to their lessors concurrent with the delivery of the new Boeing 787s”.

“In addition to serving the current Air Pacific network, the 787-9s provide for expanded non-stop services…and the capability to operate non-stop” between Fiji and China, India, South America as well as the US east coast including New York, it says.

Chief executive John Campbell says in the statement that the airline “is convinced that the right aircraft has been selected”. Campbell told Flight in October that if the carrier orders 787s it would look to lease an additional 767-300 for the 2007-2011 period to provide interim lift.

An official in Campbell’s office in Nadi, meanwhile, also confirms today that the 787 order will be one of the last major decisions overseen by the airline’s chairman, Gerald Barrack.

The official says Barrack will be retiring and stepping down in 1-2 months, although “I don’t know at this stage who his replacement is”.

Source: Flight International