Royal Brunei Air to Pick Airbus or Boeing for Short-Haul Jets

Royal Brunei Airlines’ board of directors will reach a decision on modernizing its short-haul fleet this month as the oil-rich kingdom’s flag carrier seeks planes to tap new markets, including India.

Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS short-haul jets are in the running, Deputy Chairman Dermot Mannion told reporters today at the World Travel Market in London. “We have an active short-haul campaign that will reach a climax in the next couple of weeks” with a board decision this month, he said.

Royal Brunei has taken delivery of two of five Boeing 787 Dreamliners to replace 777-200s on lease from Singapore Airlines Ltd. and plans to start London services with the new jet next month. The short-haul expansion should allow extension of the regional network.

“We have been looking at southern India for some time,” Mannion said. “We need more short-haul aircraft to support that operation.”

The airline, which currently operates six A320-family narrowbodies will seek to expand its short-haul fleet to “double digits,” he said. First deliveries should take place in 2015, he said.

Royal Brunei may purchase current-generation Boeing 737s or Airbus A320s, although the long-term goal is to operate the more modern, reengined models now in development at the two planemakers, the 737 Max or A320neo, Mannion said.

The short-haul planes may also be used to fly to Australia, he said. Royal Brunei already plans to begin 787 service to Melbourne in March once its third and fourth Dreamliners are delivered. Timing for handover of the final jet is still under discussion with Boeing, he said.

Mannion said regional operations with the 787s in recent weeks to prepare crew have gone smoothly, despite setbacks other Dreamliner operators have experienced. The carrier is “confident but not complacent” when it comes to 787 service, he said, adding that Air France-KLM Group has been tapped to provide worldwide support.

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