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Wednesday, 23 February, 2000, 17:05 GMT
British Midland stretches wings

Airbus
British Midland has chosen Airbus for expansion


British Midland airline has ordered four Airbus Industrie long-haul aircraft in a deal worth 1.2bn.

The airline is positioning itself ready for success in its battle to be allowed to fly between London and the United States.

British and US air authorities are currently in talks to try and resolve their long-running dispute over the number of flights and operators allowed between UK and US airports.

While those talks continue the airline has placed a firm order for four Airbus A330s, whose wings are made by BAE Systems, formerly British Aerospace.

British Midland has options on a further eight A330s and hopes to fly the first of its new planes on transatlantic routes next year.

Long haul commitment

The airline has licences to operate transatlantic services from both Heathrow and Manchester airports.

But it cannot start flying on these routes until the drawn-out talks on liberalising UK and US air services are concluded.

British Midland has yet to make a decision on who will supply the engines for the new aircraft - either Rolls-Royce or US giants General Electric and Pratt & Whitney.

"This order underlines our commitment to operate long-haul services next year," said British Midland chairman Sir Michael Bishop.

"By operating such services with these aircraft, we can create 2,000 jobs at British Midland. By choosing Airbus, we have also made a clear commitment to British and European industry and jobs.

"Thousands more new jobs would result if the British and American governments could agree on open skies between the two countries."

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See also:
28 Jan 00 |  Business
Heathrow-US flight talks fail
20 Oct 99 |  The Company File
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29 Aug 99 |  The Company File
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