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Aer Lingus swaps three A330s for A350s

Irish flag-carrier Aer Lingus is switching an order for three Airbus A330s, due for delivery in 2013 and 2014, to three A350-900 aircraft with arrival slated for "no earlier than 2018".

As a result, the firm now has nine A350s on order, with four scheduled for delivery in 2015, two the following year and the balance in 2018 or later.

In addition, the airline is to sell one of its eight A330s, describing its long-haul fleet as "larger than we currently require".

The firm had previously deferred orders for both A330s and A350s in August 2009 as it looked to cut capacity in its long-haul operation. At the time it hinted at the potential for a further deferral and a switch of order to the A350.

On the short-haul operation, the first of four new leased A320s arrived in January with the remainder due in the first half of 2011. The carrier will raise €100 million ($138 million) of new debt to fund the aircraft, it says.

It will also return three currently leased Airbus A321s and sell an additional unspecified short-haul aircraft.

Aer Lingus says it expects to incur capital expenditure for aircraft leases of €103 million in 2011 with a further €639 million to be incurred between 2012 and 2016 or later.

The operator has posted an operating profit of €23.6 million ($32.5 million) for the year ended 31 December 2010, reversing the heavy losses of the previous year, as its restructuring efforts took hold.

But it warns that its operating profit for 2011 will be worse than its full-year figure for 2010, owing to the increasing price of fuel.

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