Airbus is again tabling an A330 lease-deal to Israeli flag-carrier El Al as stop-gap until the new-generation A350 becomes available.

El AL recently decided to refurbish the passenger cabins of its ageing Boeing 767 fleet, but nevertheless continues to evaluate potential replacements.

The airline had options to purchase up to 10 Boeing 787s, but allowed these to lapse three years ago due to its deteriorating financial situation. The decision provided renewed impetus to efforts by Airbus to break Boeing's long-standing monopoly at El Al.

Airline sources say that one of the proposed deals is based on El Al leasing between two and four A330s directly from Airbus, with an obligation to purchase the manufacturer's A350 when it becomes available.

They add that the airline is still evaluating an offer from Boeing for the lease of "a number" of 787s but say that this option would place the carrier under a heavy financial burden.

Previously, the US manufacturer offered El Al a $40 million loan to help it acquire 787s. The sources say the loan was "partially" taken up as part of a recent deal for El Al to acquire six 737-900ER narrowbodies.

If it chooses to lease 787s, El Al could have the type in its fleet by 2014. If it decides to go back to a purchase plan, deliveries would be pushed back until 2018-2019, say the sources.

El Al faces unique operating contraints as a result of its policy of not flying on the Jewish sabbath, and the need to implement unusually strict security measures. It is also yet to align itself with a global airline alliance.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news