America West May Order Up to 60 Jets, Planemakers Say
Geneva, Feb. 22 (Bloomberg) -- America West Airlines is talking to Boeing Co. and Airbus Industrie about purchasing as many as 60 single-aisle planes, an order that would be one of the biggest on the horizon in the U.S., the two builders said.
Benoit Debains, Airbus's vice president for finance, said America West is weighing an order for ``about 60'' aircraft, though the division between firm orders and options was under discussion. James R. Billing, director of marketing at Boeing Airplane Co., a Boeing Co. unit, declined to give a specific number but said the potential purchase was ``attractive.''
``There's a big campaign going on for this order and obviously we are pushing very hard for it as is Airbus,'' said Billing in an interview at a conference on aircraft financing.
The planemakers have been expecting fewer orders this year because of an economic slowdown in the U.S. and the large number of planes U.S. airlines purchased last year.
Bernard Han, America West senior vice president of planning, said he was surprised by the comments, given that the airline already has in place 30 firm aircraft orders to be delivered during the next four years and options for 42 more. He declined to comment specifically on the Airbus and Boeing remarks.
``We are always in discussions with both Airbus and Boeing,'' he said. ``That's what people who are involved with fleet decisions do at all airlines.''
Higher Average Age
The average age of America West's fleet is 11 years, compared with eight for AMR Corp.'s American Airlines. The Phoenix-based airline has been increasing capacity 8 percent to 10 percent annually for the last five years and expects to grow at that rate again this year, Han said.
According to America West's Web site, its fleet includes 45 A320-200s, 14 A319-100s; 13 B757-200s, 47 B737-300s, 14 B737-200s, 19 Canadair Regional Jets and 12 of Bombardier's deHavilland Dash- 8s. The carrier also has A318s on order but the Web site didn't say how many.
America West Holdings Corp., the parent of America West Airlines, last month posted a fourth-quarter loss from operations of $32.1 million, or 95 cents a share, compared with profit of $20 million, or 52 cents, in the year-earlier period. Sales rose 0.7 percent to $573 million.
Douglas Parker, president of America West Holdings, said in a conference call with analysts and reporters in January that the company was optimistic about improving performance in 2001.
``The biggest thing by far that we can do is continue flying a good airline and increase consumer awareness we are doing so,'' he said. ``We saw the beginnings of that in December and I believe we'll continue to see it in 2001.''
Feb/22/2001 17:53 ET
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