French Polynesia's Air Tahiti Nui is to double its Airbus A340-300 fleet by purchasing two more "white-tail" aircraft from Airbus.

Earlier this year, the airline added two A340-300s to its fleet of one A340-200 - one on lease from International Lease Finance and one purchased from Airbus. It is now finalising details for the purchase of two aircraft originally ordered by the former AOM-Air Libert‚.

"We are trying to complete the deal by 31 December," says vice-president commercial Nicholas Panza. He says reconfiguration work will be required and precise service entry dates are not yet fixed, but "our plan is to have both operating by April 2003".

In addition to negotiating with Airbus, Air Tahiti Nui was considering acquiring A340-300s from Boeing, aircraft which the US manufacturer is taking from Singapore Airlines as part of a 777 deal.

Air Tahiti Nui launched in November 1998 with one A340-200. It plans to use the two additional A340s between Papeete and Los Angeles and on its Los Angeles-Paris route, which began in May.

Source: Flight International