Paul Lewis/WASHINGTON DC
The Airbus A318 has received another major sales boost. America West, Frontier Airlines and Air China are to announce orders for 33 aircraft days after British Airways concluded its deal for up to 24 of the new jets.
Boeing chairman Phil Condit has publicly conceded the loss of the Frontier order to its Airbus rival, complaining that aircraft pricing had sunk too low to make a profit. This Denver-based carrier declined to comment beyond saying it had not yet "signed a letter of intent with either manufacturer".
Industry sources nonetheless confirmed that the carrier had decided to order 10 A318s together with 10 A319s. The contracts to make the engines for both types of aircraft will be put out to competition. The new aircraft will replace Frontier's 20 leased Boeing 737s - seven 119-seat 737-200 Advs and 13 136-seat 737-300s. Last year, the carrier reported a net profit of $30 million, its first since beginning operations five years ago.
Another US carrier waiting to announce an A318 order is America West. The Phoenix, Arizona-based carrier is expected to order 15 examples, along with 12 more of the larger A319/A320 versions, plus 25 options.
Meanwhile, Air China is understood to have firmed up an order for eight A318s. Earlier in the year, the airline signed a preliminary agreement to take the new 107-seater (Flight International, 28 April - 4 May).
On 13 September, Airbus claimed it had secured A318 commitments totalling 163 aircraft.
Source: Flight International