Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

ANSETT AUSTRALIA has detailed interim plans to increase its widebody fleet to provide a 10% capacity increase on key business routes.

The carrier also wants to reduce its fleet from eight to five types, and to retire its Stage 3 Boeing 727s and Fokker F28s.

Ansett's two owners, News Corporation and TNT, will have to acquire more than A$200 million ($145 million) to fund the expansion. The plan could widen the gap between the two, however. News Corporation is leading the push for expansion, while TNT is keen to reduce its Ansett exposure.

News Corporation executive chairman Ken Cowley says that Ansett's needs now include 12 widebodied domestic aircraft instead of the present seven Boeing 767-200s.

He says that Ansett has moved to acquire immediately three additional 767s for domestic routes for delivery in March and June, six Airbus A320s (instead of the previously announced four), for delivery between May 1996 and April 1997, one extra Boeing 737in May to join the existing 21 in domestic service, and a 767-300ER, also for delivery in May, for international use. Ansett is also negotiating the delivery of further 767s for domestic operations.

Cowley says that a longer-term fleet plan had addressed a requirement for a 10% increase in peak-hour capacity on key east-coast business routes, as well as the retirement of noisy aircraft types ahead of the original 2002 deadline.

All additional aircraft will be leased as the first stage of a longer-term proposal to assess upgrading to new equipment. Older aircraft will be retired progressively as new equipment arrives. "Our fleet strategy is not just about boosting capacity," says Cowley.

"In fact, the increase in total seat numbers is relatively modest. The plan is about increasing Ansett's profitability and efficiency, and being able to compete more aggressively".

Ansett says that the restructure is a key component of its new five-year business strategy, "Destination 2000", announced late in 1995. Its 727s and F28s will be phased out of noise-sensitive Sydney by the end of March, and all 727s will be removed from the fleet by the end of 1997 - five years earlier than required by Government legislation. Ansett plans to retire the F28s within a similar time span, and its Fokker 50 turboprops will be withdrawn from service.

The Airbus A320s will be leased from GATX Capital, while the Boeings are expected to come from Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services.


Source: Flight International