Arie Egozi/TEL AVIV

Airbus is offering El Al up to 10 A330/A340s as the Israeli national carrier finalises its long-haul fleet renewal plans. A Boeing offer of various widebody twinjets is also being studied, and the airline expects to finalise its selection within the next two months.

The Airbus proposal is based on a mix of 250-seat A330-200s and 380-seat A340-600s, which it says will enable El Al to rationalise its fleet, by phasing out both its seven ageing 747-200s and its 14 757/767 twinjets. This would reduce El Al's passenger aircraft types to three groups - the narrowbody 737-700/800s, widebody A330/A340s and Boeing 747-400s.

Airbus has presented its proposal to El Al's management, which is comparing it with Boeing's offering of mixed twinjets - including 777s and advanced versions of the 767, such as the stretched -400ER and long range -300ERX. El Al says a decision is expected by the end of this month, but this could slip into May. Deliveries are expected to begin next year or the year after, to enable the airline to phase out its 747-200s quickly.

El Al operates an all-Boeing fleet and last year it chose the US manufacturer's Next Generation 737 over the Airbus A320 family for its new short-haul fleet, after Boeing made a last-minute discount on the price for five 737-700/800s. Airbus has already committed to assist El Al to develop the infrastructure to maintain Airbus types, if it wins the widebody deal.

Source: Flight International