Brazil's largest air carrier, TAM Linhas Aéreas signed a memorandum of understanding to buy 22 Airbus A350 XWB jets plus four A330-200s, the European manufacturer announced Friday. Total value of the deal is US$ 5.4 billion at list prices.
TAM will take delivery on the A330 portion of the order in 2010 and 2011. The A350 XWBs will be delivered between 2013 and 2018.
TAM was the Latin American launch customer for the original Airbus A350 program that was shelved when airlines complained that the design would not match the capabilities of Boeing's 787 Dreamliner.
The restart of the program as the A350 XWB means the airplane's first customer delivery is scheduled for 2013, five years after the Boeing goes into service. The Brazilian airline had ordered 10 of the original A350s.
The purchase reflects TAM's plans to increase its share of international air travel to and from Brazil, CEO Marco Bologna said in the statement. TAM controls 72% of international flights among Brazilian airlines, but several international carriers also fly direct to Brazil.
TAM, which competes with low cost carrier Gol for most of Brazil's air travel, will have a fleet of 143 aircraft at the end of 2011 after the four new A330 jets are delivered.
The order gives Airbus a total of 254 firm orders and commitments for the airplane.