Kenya Airways eyes Airbus A330-200s - sources

Tue Sep 29, 2009 8:51am EDT

* Discussing purchase of 6-9 Airbus A330-200s-officials

* Cites Dreamliner delays, still in talks with Boeing

* Kenya Airways seeking to modernise its fleet

NAIROBI, Sept 29 (Reuters) - Kenya Airways (KQNA.NR) is in talks with Airbus EAD.PA about buying several A330-200 planes after delays to Boeing's (BA.N) much-anticipated B787 Dreamliner jet, senior officials at the airline said on Tuesday.

The carrier's Chief Executive Officer Titus Naikuni said on Friday the company was in talks with Airbus and that between six and nine aircraft were under consideration.

An official at Kenya Airways told Reuters the carrier, which is majority-owned by AirFrance-KLM (AIRF.PA) and the Kenyan government, had started talks because some leases on its planes were about to expire, and that it was eyeing the A330-200.

A second official at the carrier confirmed the plans.

The airline had no immediate official comment.

Naikuni told reporters on Friday the discussions were at a very early stage, and that the carrier was also still in talks with Boeing. Kenya Airways had agreed to buy nine Dreamliners.

Seattle-based Boeing is marketing its Dreamliner as 20 percent more fuel efficient than other planes.

Kenya Airways, which posted its first full-year pretax loss since privatisation in 1996 for the period ended in March -- due to fuel hedging costs -- wants to modernise its fleet of 28 Boeings and Brazilian-made Embraer jets.

The airline is one of Africa's leading carriers. It is opening new routes on the continent and wants to increase the frequency of flights to some existing destinations, such as Zimbabwe and Zambia. (Reporting by Duncan Miriri; Editing by David Clarke and Jon Loades-Carter)

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