Polish state considers Tu-154 fate after chartering LOT jets

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Poland's defence ministry is considering the future of its second Tupolev Tu-154M after opting to charter two LOT Embraer 175s for Government transport.

The ministry had a pair of Tu-154s, one of which was the aircraft lost in the fatal landing accident at Smolensk on 10 April.

It has contracted with LOT to use two Embraer jets - which are being repainted in the presidential wing colour scheme - up to 2013. Both are being put into operation this month.

The cost of the four-year charter contract, says the defence ministry, amounts to Pzl25 million ($7.5 million) per year.

Undersecretary of state for defence Marcin Idzik says there are three scenarios under consideration for the second Tu-154 which is due to return to the fleet in July.

He says the Government could continue to use it for VIP transport, convert the jet to a military transport, or sell it to the country's military property agency.

Last year the ministry had been looking at acquiring new medium-sized aircraft but says it was prevented from proceeding by the global economic crisis.

As a result of the Tu-154 accident, says Idzik, the ministry will have to look at the possibility of acquiring larger types.