Air New Zealand (ANZ) has sold its five Boeing 747-200s to Virgin Atlantic Airways as as part of its fleet modernisation programme.

The five 16-17 year old Rolls-Royce RB211-524D4-powered 747s will join Virgin between March 1999 and January 2001. The UK carrier operates six older Pratt & Whitney JT9D-powered 747-100/200s, which will now be deployed on "less onerous routes", and may be replaced by the younger R-R-powered versions.

ANZ has publicly valued the whole deal, including spares, at $130 million. Industry sources suggest that the deal for five aircraft alone is closer to $100 million.

ANZ will replace the 747-200s with additional 747-400s which it already has on order, and says that it is also negotiating the acquisition of other new aircraft.

Virgin says it is still discussing the acquisition of 747-200s from Cathay Pacific, and is believed to have a lease deal for two aircraft. The ANZ 747-200 deal is likely to have ended any prospect of the Boeing 777 joining Virgin's fleet in the near term.

Source: Flight International