Air India is offering three ageing Boeing 747-200s for sale as the airline attempts to revamp operations and routes to boost revenue.

The move means that the airline has backed away from plans to lease two 747-200s to UK aircraft broker Air Charters.

Air India had signed a memorandum of understanding on the lease and expected the deal to be closed by early May, but dropped it because of lease payment problems and the age of the aircraft.

The carrier owns seven 747-200s, two 747-300s and four 747-400s. The remaining -200s will stay in service for the time being, as will the newer aircraft. Air India flies its 747 Classics for only five hours per day on average.

Last year, the airline sold one -200 to US investment company Triton and a second to UPS.

The carrier is planning to cut services to Frankfurt, Manchester and Paris and add frequencies to existing or new Middle Eastern destinations from May.

Services to Hong Kong will be increased from two to five weekly frequencies.

The carrier maintains much-delayed plans for a complete fleet renewal by 2002. It is looking for new mid- and small-capacity long range aircraft, but expects no further progress on these plans until the first quarter of 2000, by which time it hopes to have returned to profit.

Source: Flight International