The troubled Pratt & Whitney PW6000-powered A318 programme has suffered another serious blow as two of the three remaining airline customers - British Airways and EgyptAir - cancel their orders.

BA says it has swapped its six remaining A318 orders for the 195-seat A321 model, while Airbus has confirmed that EgyptAir's order for five A318s has been replaced by one for a similar number of A320s. Both revamped orders specify the International Aero Engines V2500 engine, of which P&W is a shareholder.

When P&W confirmed the 30- month slip of the PW6000 programme in March, Frontier Airlines switched its order for six PW6000-powered A318s to the CFM International CFM56 version. In August Air China swapped its order for eight PW6000-powered A318s for A319s. America West Airlines now remains as the sole PW6000-powered A318 airline customer, with an order for 15 aircraft due from 2006.

Lessor International Lease Finance has orders for 15 A318s, which may be powered by the PW6000.

BA's original A318 order in October 1999 was for 12 aircraft, plus 12 options. In April the order was reduced to six, and the options cancelled. Now BA is dropping the remainder of the A318s as well as three of the six remaining A319s it has on order from its original massive A320 family deal in 1998.

The A318/A319 orders have been exchanged for six A321s, which it says are more suited "to higher density routes from London Heathrow Airport". The airline now has 10 A321s on order, scheduled for delivery between September 2004 and December 2005.

Airbus holds 69 orders for CFM56-powered A318s, and is adamant that the recent cancellations have had no effect on the status of the PW6000/ A318 programme, which continues as planned.

Source: Flight International