COMPETITION between Airbus Industrie and Boeing to place aircraft with start-up carrier Air Macau has intensified, with a final decision expected shortly from the airline's board of directors.

Air Macau has an immediate requirement for four leased aircraft and wants to put the first two into service by the end of the year. The airline, which has a long-term requirement for up to ten aircraft, is due to start operations when Macau's international airport opens in November.

International Lease Finance (ILFC) is offering is offering a mix of four Airbus A320/321s, all powered by International Aero Engines V2500s. General Electric Capital has proposed a similar number of CFM56 powered Boeing 737-300/400s.

A win for Airbus Industrie will give it a major boost in trying to sell the A320 family to carriers in neighboring China. The European manufacturer faces strong competition from Boeing, keen to preserve its traditional market dominance in China with the 737.

The joint-venture airline's board, is understood to be split on the issue. Representatives of TAP-Air Portugal, which owns a 25% stake, are thought to favour Airbus, while the Civil Aviation Authority of China (CAAC), holding a 51% share, prefers Boeing aircraft.

Air Macau, in the meantime, has appointed former Singapore Airlines senior investment and marketing manager, Ng Kian Hua, as its new president. It is not clear whether this will have bearing on aircraft selection.

The airline plans to use its new 150- to 180-seat aircraft on regional routes.

Source: Flight International