BOEING IS going ahead with its long-awaited 757-300 stretch variant after negotiating "a proposal" for up to 24 aircraft with the German charter airline, Condor Flugdienst.

The deal covers firm orders worth $875 million for 12 aircraft (formerly designated the -300X) and 12 options. Boeing says: "The order is subject to final documentation and approval by the board of directors of Condor and Lufthansa." Deliveries will begin in 1999.

The -300 will be stretched by 7.1m to increase seating from a maximum of 225 to 289, some 20% greater than that for the basic 757-200. Condor will configure each of its aircraft for 252 seats. The stretch raises lower-cargo-hold capacity by 40%, and overall produces 10% lower seat-kilometre operating costs than those for the -200. With its 6,430km (3,500nm) range, the -300 is expected to attract interest from other charter operators, particularly European-based carriers which now operate more than 100 of the type on charter routes.

The 757-300 sales form part of a group of orders announced by Boeing worth $8.1 billion. The order for 75 aircraft includes a purchase of 25 from Ansett Worldwide, the Australian leasing company. Ansett has ordered 16 737s, ten -700s and six -300s. The balance is made up by nine 767-300ERs. International Lease Finance has ordered 15 aircraft - five 737s, five 757-200s and five 767-300ERs. British Airways has ordered four 747-400s, three 777-200IGWs and three 757-200s, as well as accelerating its deliveries of other -400s to replace first-generation "Classics."

Other orders have been announced by LOT Polish Airlines (which will take two 737-400s and a 767-300ER), Maersk Air of Denmark (which will take three 737-500s), Airtours of the UK (one 737-400) and Air Berlin (one 737-400).

The US company also concluded the long-awaited deal with Philippine Airlines for the delivery of seven General Electric CF6-80C powered 747-400s. The $1.8 billion contract will see the first aircraft delivered in mid-1998.

While agreeing the 757 deal on the one hand Condor says it has also signed a MoU with Airbus for the purchase of A320s and A321s.A decision on whether to go ahead with the deal is expected in November.

Source: Flight International