SAS announced today the closing of deal with Chinese bank BOCOM to acquire 4 new Airbus 330 Enhanced aircraft. The Sale & Lease Back contract agreement with BOCOM spells out how the Scandinavian carrier will initially sell the 4 aircraft to the bank but still take them in its long haul fleet, on a 12-year operating lease basis with the bank. BOCOM in this context is more accurately referred to as the Bank of Communications Financial Leasing (JY Aviation); the leasing arm of Shanghai-based Bank of Communications founded in 1908. As a subsidiary of BOCOM International Holdings Company Limited, BOCOM International serves as the international investment banking and securities firm, one of China’s top 3 IPO underwriter. The BOCOM aircraft leasing business is one of three large Chinese aircraft leasing firm to recently having set up an office in Ireland. There it manages a growing fleet of 21 aircraft soon to be joined by another 20 this year alone. The other two being ICBC Leasing and CDB Leasing (Sinoaero).
The value of the purchase is said to be around $1 billion. These 4 aircraft are part of major fleet restructuring effort announced by the carrier in June 2013 when it ordered 8 A350-900 as well as the 4 A330 Enhanced. The overall $3.3 billion order package has maintained an option for 6 A350-900 while also making provisions for cabin upgrades on the 3 A330 and 4 A340-300 aircraft that currently form the backbone of SAS long haul fleet. It is to be noted that the main objective of the order was to gradually retire the less fuel-efficient four-engined A340 from service as soon as feasible.
The A330-300 Enhanced versus the A330-300.
The A330-300 normally seats 295 passengers when configured in 3 classes and 335 in two. It has a length of 63.6m (208 ft 11 in) and uses the 222 inches fuselage cross section shared among the A330/A340 and now A350 family.
The Enhanced version will introduce by the middle of the year 2015 a newer Higher Maximum Take Off Weight variant of the A330 family brought up to 242 Tonnes from 235 Tonnes originally. From an operational standpoint the aircraft which also burns 2% less fuel benefits from an increase of more than 5 tonnes of payload. By carrying more fuel, the -Enhanced shows 500 nm more legs making it capable of pushing past the 6,050 nm (11,200 km.) range. The aircraft retains a pair of either RR Trent 700, GE CF6-80E1 or PW4000 -series engine all advertised with thrust between 68,000 and 72,000 lb (303 to 320 kN) slst (sea level static thrust).