AIR UK LEISURE has signed a contract with GE Capital Aviation Services for the lease of three Airbus A320-200s, replacing its Boeing 737-400 fleet from April (Flight International, 14-21 February).

Three of the seven Boeing aircraft have already gone to ModiLuft in India, with the remaining four due to join the KLM fleet after the A320 delivery. The move is part of cutbacks following a considerable drop in holiday bookings to the Mediterranean resorts for the 1996 summer season.

The charter airline will drop the Air UK name and trade in future as Leisure International Airways, a name already used for the company's Boeing 767-200ER long-haul operation. It will also relocate its main base from London Stansted to London Gatwick Airport.

Although Air UK has a 60% stake - tour operator Unijet holds the other 40% - it is believed to be under pressure from KLM, which owns 45% of the UK's third-largest scheduled carrier, to divest itself of its charter interests.

The appointment of Unijet's Philip Ovenden as managing director, replacing Jeremy Dixon, is seen by some as a first move in the transfer of control from Air UK to Unijet.o

Boeing 737s are being phased out of Air UK Leisure fleet

Source: Flight International