UK CHARTER CARRIER Leisure International Airways (formerly Air UK Leisure) has selected the Airbus A321-200 rather than the Boeing 737-800 for its future fleet needs.

LIA declines to comment on the selection, although it confirms that an announcement "is imminent".

The airline has replaced its fleet of 737-400s with A320s on interim lease for this summer season, and has been evaluating the A321 and 737-800 for its long-term requirements. LIA is expected to begin A321 operations in 1997. Initially, up to four aircraft are involved.

The new "throttle-push" CFM56 derivative, being developed for the high-gross-weight A321-200 is thought to have been selected by LIA. This 142kN (32,000lb) version, the -5B3/P is a derivative of the A321-100's 133-138kN CFM56-5B1/-5B2.

Airbus launched the 89,000kg maximum-take-off-weight A321 in March 1995, with a contract from Aero Lloyd. First delivery is due in October. Leasing concerns ILFC and GATX have also contracted for the variant. The A321-200 offers a range of 5,000km (2,700nm), with 185 passengers (two-class), some 600-750km more than that of the -100 variant.

Source: Flight International