Air Canada and Virgin order Airbus planes

From: (H Andrew Chuang)
Date:         2 Aug 1997 12:03:09 GMT
Organization: Concentric Internet Services
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I'm surprised that no one has posted anything about the two orders in
these two newsgourps.  I'll skip the details.  Basically, AC is going
to order 3 A330-200s and 5 A340-300s to replace 6 B747 Classics and 2
leased A340-300s.  Options on A340-500s and A340-600s are intended to
replace its B747-400s.  VS has announced its intent to buy 16 A340-600s
and 2 A340-300s.  For details, you can check the websites of respective
airlines or Airbus website <>.

If you are confused about the model numbers, here's a brief description:

A340-300 ~295 pax ~7,300 nm - in production     - competes w/ B777-200IGW
A340-500 ~315 pax ~8,500 nm - under development - competes w/ B777-200X
A340-600 ~375 pax ~7,300 nm - under development - competes w/ B747-400 and
A330-200 ~265 pax ~6,500 nm - under development - competes w/ B767-400ER

Some comments:

1. AC's order is not a big surprise, even though there were rumors that
   AC might order the B777.  With AC's current fleet, the A340 makes
   sense.  However, I am surprised that AC is replacing the old B747s
   with the much smaller A330-200 and A340-300, especially the A330-200
   which is about 60% the size of a B747.

2. Long time ago, VS had shown great interest in the B777.  I believe
   VS had even paid deposits for some B777 slots.  So, this is a
   significant win for Airbus.  With British Airways dropping its
   Union-Jack-derived logo, all of a sudden, VS is big on
   "Britishness."  Other than the Trent-powered A330, it's been a while
   since a commercial airliner has such a high British content that the
   A340-600 will have.  (The A340-600 will be powered by the Trent 500
   only, while the A330 has three engine offerings.)  This point has
   been duly noted in VS's announcement.

3. VS has become the first launch customer for the A340-500/600.  I
   think Airbus has a good chance to get launch orders from Swissair
   for the A340-600 (to replace the B747) and Cathay Pacific for the
   A340-500.  Boeing seems to be a little bit behind with its plans
   for the B777-200X/300X.  The B777-200X/300X is supposed to enter
   into service in 2001, one year ahead the A340-500/600.  With the
   merger between Boeing and McDonnell Douglas completed, my guess is
   Boeing probably will announce something more concrete about the
   B777-200X/300X soon.