Airbus will hand its A330-200F flight test aircraft to Turkish Airlines later this year.

Turkish Airlines, last November, placed an order for two A330-200Fs to be delivered in late 2011. The carrier's CEO, Temel Kotil, reveals to ATI that "one of them is the testing aircraft".

Airbus certified the A330-200F in April following a 200hr flight test programme which began last November. ATI reported after first flight that Airbus was planning to rework the A330-200F test aircraft - MSN 1004 - for a customer after the testing programme was complete.

The first production A330-200F is scheduled to be delivered in August to Etihad Airways.

Kotil says Turkish expects to receive its two A330-200Fs in September and October. He says that when Airbus offered the test aircraft, at a discount, the carrier accepted because it believed it was equivalent to the production aircraft.

"It's cheaper. It's a good machine. The A330 is an established aircraft," Kotil told ATI during a Star Alliance event in Sao Paulo.

He adds that, for cargo operations in particular, taking a test aircraft "is not a big deal".

Kotil says Turkish plans to operate its A330-200F on cargo services to Asia, in particular China. According to Flightglobal's ACAS database, Turkish's freighter fleet currently consists of four Airbus A310-300Fs.

Kotil says Turkish will also take delivery in October of the first of 10 new A330-300 passenger aircraft the carrier ordered last year. He says the carrier will receive four A330-300s in the fourth quarter alone and subsequently additional aircraft will be delivered at a rate of about one per month.

Turkish plans to use new A330-300s to open new services to Dhaka in Bangladesh and Ho Chi Minh City in Vietnam. Turkish first indicated late last year that Dhaka and Ho Chi Minh were among several new destinations it was planning to launch in 2010.

Kotil says some of the four new A330-300s to be delivered in the fourth quarter of this year will also be used to increase frequencies in several Asian markets including Osaka and Seoul.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news