Julian Moxon/PARIS

Air France is considering the purchase of an initial 15 Airbus A330-200s or Boeing 767-300ER/400ERs to satisfy part of its future long-haul requirement and has asked General Electric, Rolls-Royce and Pratt & Whitney to come up with offers for both types.

Selection is being held up until labour issues are resolved, primarily the continuing impasse between pilots and management over pay scales and working conditions, which sparked a strike during June.

The carrier is running the engine selection in tandem with the airframe bids because, say airline sources, it wants to be in a position to place its orders immediately following the resolution of the differences with the pilots.

The purchase will come as part of a Fr40 billion ($6 billion) fleet renewal programme announced by Air France president Jean-Paul Spinetta in December 1997. At the time, he pointed to a need to grow the long-haul fleet by 40%, with a corresponding 15% increase in the short/medium-haul fleet.

The carrier needs the aircraft rapidly to push through its plans for increased services and frequencies on routes to Africa, Asia and North and South America. It is unclear whether they would be leased or purchased.

Boeing talks with Air France centre on either the 10,100km (5,450nm)-range, 218-passenger, 767-300ER, or the stretched, 245-seat, 767-400ER, while Airbus is presenting the 11,900km-range, 256-passenger A332-200.

Source: Flight International