Trans World Airlines (TWA) has confirmed an order with Airbus Industrie for 20 A319s as the carrier begins talks on a takeover with Global Airlines and a possible second bidder America West, following the withdrawal of AirTran Airways from initial talks.

The St Louis-based airline has confirmed the purchase of 20 International Aero Engines V2500-powered A319s for delivery from 2005, to supplement 25 Pratt &Whitney PW6000-powered A318s already on the Airbus orderbook. This is a shift from TWA's previously stated plan, announced in February, to order 38 A318s and lease another 12 from International Lease Finance.

TWA originally signed a letter of intent in late 1998 for 50 A318s and 25 A320 family aircraft, plus options on another 75 as a trade-in on a cancelled order for 10 Rolls-Royce Trent 700-powered A330s. Neither the airline or manufacturer were able to account for the discrepancy in numbers.

The deal all along has been contingent on Airbus providing long-term financing for the struggling carrier, which last year ran up losses of $353.4 million. The airline's stock value has suffered accordingly, making it the target for a takeover in recent months.

Following AirTran's pull-out from talks, TWA chief executive Bill Compton has written to Global Airlines requesting more details about its $381million offer, which has been extended. The New York-based company, which currently has no operations, has been asked to meet TWA's investment bank Rothchilds.

According to Global chief executive Emil Bernard, Compton is seeking more information on Global's combined stock and convertible bond offer (Flight International, 27 June-3 July). He has also asked for a business plan and how Global intends to reschedule TWA's estimated $500 million debt.

America West has also been reported to be holding merger talks with TWA. The Phoenix-based carrier, which this year has been the target of an unsuccessful takeover bid by United Airlines, recently concluded a marketing tie-up with TWA and has ordered a large fleet of A320s. A merger with TWA would give it a strengthened Midwest and East Coast presence, with international routes to Europe the Middle East.

• TWA's A319 contract was among 49 new orders received by Airbus in June. Other previously unannounced orders last month include business from International Lease Finance (two A319s), British Midland (two A320s and two A330-200s) and, from undisclosed customers, seven A319s, six A320s, two A321s and five A340s.

Source: Flight International