AIRBUS CLAIMS to be in final negotiations with Korean Air (KAL) and two other unidentified international carriers to place the first orders for the recently launched A330-200 "shrink".

According to Airbus senior vice-president John Leahy, KAL is looking for between 12 and 15 A330-200s, and up to six A340-300s. The aircraft would complement seven new A330-300s already on order, for delivery from early 1997 onwards. The aircraft are needed for low-capacity regional and long-haul routes.

Leahy adds that South Korea's second international carrier, Asiana Airlines, and Thai Airways International are also regarded as strong potential buyers of the A330-200s.

Airbus is negotiating a sale of up 15 A330/340s to Asiana, plus a similar number of offers, but faces competition from Boeing, proposing nine 777s with 11 options. The order is likely to be part of a larger deal, including 150- to 180-seat narrowbody aircraft.

Thai's newly elected board of directors is due to meet on 28 February to vote on the carrier's next planned purchase of five more A300-600Rs and a similar number of A330s. The aircraft are in addition to eight A330-300s in service.

Airbus has proposed offering a lightweight version of the A330-200 to Singapore Airlines. The carrier is looking for 15 150- to 200-seat aircraft for shorter-range regional routes now operated with the A310.

Source: Flight International