Royal Brunei eyes Australian growth with new narrowbodies

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New-generation single-aisle jets to be ordered by Royal Brunei Airlines may be used to reopen routes to Perth and other Australian destinations.

Deputy chairman Dermot Mannion tells Flightglobal Pro that the suitability of the Boeing 737 Max or Airbus A320neo for operations in the 5-5.5h sector range will be a "key element" in the flag carrier’s decision as to which type to order for its short-haul fleet renewal programme.

"One of the key elements in our short-haul campaign between Airbus and Boeing is that of course new-generation aircraft will improve fuel burn, but with that comes extended range, so there is the possibility of using a single-aisle aircraft on medium-haul sectors of five and five-and-a-half hours, which may provide us with the chance to operate single-aisle services to Australia," he says.

"That would be a very efficient operation, to operate five-and-a-half hours into Australia and north Asia, and it could be a valuable proposition," he adds.

While Mannion does not divulge the number of aircraft Royal Brunei is seeking to purchase, he does say it would take the short-haul fleet from six to "double figures". He further expects to announce its choice of manufacturer by year-end.

Royal Brunei previously operated to Brisbane, Melbourne and Perth before shrinking its Australian network to just Brunei-Melbourne as part of a restructuring programme in 2011.