Airbus Industrie and Boeing have submitted final proposals to Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA) to supply a new family of narrowbody passenger aircraft to replace its fleet of Boeing 757-200s and Fokker 100 twinjets.

RBA's board is close to a decision on a replacement type and hopes to be able to finalise a deal by the end of the year. The narrowbody order is initially for four aircraft, but is expected to have a major influence on the carrier's choice of a new long-range airliner.

Boeing is offering the new-generation 737-600 and larger -700, while Airbus is proposing the A319 and A320. The new aircraft will replace RBA's two remaining 757s, now used on thinner capacity regional routes, and two Fokker 100s operated to East Malaysian destinations in neighbouring Sabah and Sarawak.

The airline has already sold a 757 to the Kazakhstan Government and wants to replace the other two with smaller-capacity airliners. The two Fokkers were only recently acquired as interim replacements for two Fokker 50 turboprops.

In the longer-term, the airline requires a new long-haul aircraft partially to replace nine Boeing 767-300ERs and allow the carrier to open up routes to the USA. Competing for the order are Boeing, offering its 777, and Airbus which is offering its A340, at least three examples of which are already in VIP service with the Sultan of Brunei and his family.

In addition to its 757s and Fokker 100s, the carrier is already trying to sell two General Electric CF6-80C2-powered 767s (Flight International, 3-9 September).

RBA is also expected to decide shortly on whether to continue with its leased Dornier 228 operations, following the 6 September crash of an aircraft at Miri, which killed ten passengers and crew. The aircraft was operated and maintained by Merpati Intan Air.

Until a decision is taken, the second Dornier 228 remains grounded at Miri, and RBA services from Brunei to Mulu, Labuan and Bintulu in East Malaysia have been suspended.

Source: Flight International