By Max Kingsley-Jones in London
Additional reporting by David Kaminski-Morrow

Airbus made a last-minute decision to postpone an announcement of the A330-200 Freighter programme launch during the Farnborough air show despite receiving a commitment for 30 aircraft from an undisclosed customer.

Although Airbus declines to confirm that it cancelled the announcement, or explain its reasoning, a statement that briefly appeared on the Airbus website said "an undisclosed customer specialising in leasing freighters worldwide" had signed a letter of intent for 30 A330-200Fs, which is "subject to approval by the customer's board of directors". The statement added that first deliveries "are planned for the fourth quarter of 2009".

According to industry sources, European leasing company AerCap had been working with new Kuwaiti freight operator LoadAir to finalise an A330-200F order for announcement during Farnborough. AerCap declines to comment on any plan to acquire A330 freighters, but LoadAir confirms it is interested in taking an initial batch of four A330-200Fs for a medium-haul operation to supplement the long-haul routes it plans to serve with its new Boeing 747-400ERFs.

According to sources, other potential customers for the 64t- payload A330-200F include lessor Guggenheim Aviation Partners as well as Cathay Pacific, Etihad Airways and Emirates Airline. FedEx Express is also interested in the aircraft, but the carrier is understood to favour a freighter based on the larger A330-300.

The A330-200F will have a 64t payload, a range of 7,400km (4,000nm) and will typically accommodate up to 22 standard 96 x 125in (243 x 318cm) pallets. Airbus forecasts a market in the A330-200F's category for 380 aircraft over the next 20 years.


Source: Flight International