NICHOLAS IONIDES / SINGAPORE
Sale is region's first for Airbus A319-based corporate jet
The Royal Thai Air Force has ordered an Airbus Corporate Jetliner (ACJ) in the first confirmed sale of the type in the Asia-Pacific region. The A319-based ACJ will be powered by CFM International CFM56-5B7/P engines and is scheduled for delivery in July 2004. It will be used to transport senior government officials.
Airbus says that the Royal Thai Air Force's ACJ will be fitted with four additional centre fuel tanks, enabling it to fly one-stop to Europe or North America with 30 passengers. The air force became one of Airbus's first customers for government transport in 1991, when it began operating an A310-300 in this role. The Royal Thai Air Force also operates several other passenger aircraft types, including a Boeing 737-400, for VIP transport.
The deal was announced weeks after state-owned Thai Airways International confirmed an order for eight long-range Airbus A340-500/600s. While this is the first firm ACJ sale in the Asia-Pacific region, it is not the first commitment from the area. In 1997 Taiwanese carrier EVA Air quietly signed a letter of intent to purchase an ACJ - known at the time as the A319CJ - for use by its parent company, the Evergreen Group.
The deal was linked to EVA's plan to acquire up to 12 A340-500/ 600s, however, and when the airline decided against ordering the long-range aircraft, the ACJ deal was scrapped. EVA's tentative ACJ commitment was never made public.
Source: Flight International