US Airways is continuing to source Airbus A340 aircraft for its planned Philadelphia-Beijing service, but says it has been "unable to locate airplanes that suit our needs", as Boeing 787 customers snatch up available capacity to offset that program’s delay, and Asian and Middle Eastern carriers seek to renew their fleets.

The 787 delay "definitely made the problem worse", said senior VP, schedule planning and alliances Andrew Nocella today during US Airways’ annual media day event in Tempe, Arizona.

A significant amount of new widebody lift is destined for US Airways in the next couple of years; delivery of new Airbus A330-200s will begin in 2009. By 2011, the carrier will operate 17 of the type. Airbus A350 deliveries to US Airways begin in 2014 and run through 2017

Although US Airways has rights to convert some A330s to A340s, the carrier no longer has "the time to alter" the A330 order for A340s deliveries to support the March 2009 launch of Beijing, reveals Nocella.

The A330 model, he says, would not be an ideal aircraft to launch Beijing.

Asked by ATI if US Airways might pick up some of Air Canada A340s, Nocella says: "Air Canada A340s go on and off the market. Sometimes when they come on the market, it’s very hard to close."

He says US Airways still wants to go forward with the Beijing launch, but notes that it is "a logistical challenge".

With a large batch of widebodies coming online, however, US Airways is focusing on international growth in the 2009-2011 timeframe; growth in domestic operations, says Nocella, will be "slow if not negative".

Philadelphia, with its "optimal east coast geography", will be targeted for service to Europe. Growth from Phoenix to Europe and Asia is "being considered but unlikely prior to 2010", says Nocella, adding that the new A330s and A350s will "unlock that door".

From US Airways’ Charlotte hub, an existing destination served from Philly is being studied, as well as service to Latin America.