French charter airline Corsair has confirmed its purchase of two Airbus A330-200s, with Rolls-Royce Trent 700s.

The decision in favour of the European consortium was taken, says Corsair president Jacques Maillot, "-because Airbus reacted most quickly" to the request for proposals and "-presented the best financing package".

The first A330 is due in July 1999 and the second in February 2000. The order is a first for Airbus.

Corsair, a subsidiary of tour operator Nouvelle Frontieres, has previously operated an all-Boeing fleet, growing from a pair of 737-200s in 1989 to a mix of six 747s and nine 737s today. Maillot says: "We certainly intend to renew our fleet and grow some more - and we will be looking at all the options."

The aircraft will be configured initially in 356-seat two-class layout for operations to Reunion and Madagascar, although Maillot says that "-we will look at a single class 371-seat configuration later". The aircraft are being purchased from Airbus for around $83 million each, compared with a sticker price of nearly $120 million.

Maillot expects net profits for the airline to rise to Fr35 million ($5.9 million) in the year to the end of September after a loss of Fr15 million in 1997. He expects a slight drop in sales by Fr300,000, to Fr2 billion, because of poor performance on routes to Africa, Guyana and New Caledonia.

Source: Flight International