Boeing Aircraft Trading (BAT) is talking to the newly -revived Ariana Afghan Airlines about re-equipping its fleet, it was revealed on the eve of Asian Aerospace. Most of its aircraft were destroyed in American bombing during the campaign against the Taleban and Al Qaeda.

"Our people made contact with them (Ariana) after they made their first flight to Delhi," said Dinesh Keskar, president of BAT. "Clearly we will work with them."

Ariana came out of the wilderness of 1999 United Nations sanctions, which had led to the suspension of international flights, with flights to Delhi and Sharjah in the Arabian Gulf. However, it has only one jet aircraft left Ð a Boeing 727-200 Ð after six others were destroyed in air raids.

"We don't have any 727s," says Keskar, "but we will look to see what aircraft makes sense for their needs."

The first step for Ariana is to acquire additional aircraft and a two-pronged approached is under way. The interim Afghan government has formally asked the United States to replace the six Ariana aircraft destroyed during the air strikes. At the same time, Ariana has asked the interim Afghan government for five widebody aircraft, five narrow bodies and some aircraft for domestic operations.

Ariana is acutely aware of the cargo carrying potential involved in the ambitious plans being drawn up for the rebuilding of Afghanistan.

Fleet-replacement permitting, Ariana wants to increase its daily Kabul-Sharjah cargo flight to five a day.

Meanwhile Keskar is at Asian Aerospace keen to talk to potential customers about placing the next batch of former Singapore Airlines (SIA) Airbus A340-300s following the completion of recent deals for the first five with Cathay Pacific and Khalifa Airways.


"I am already looking at some (potential customers) but we don't discuss prospects," he said. "I think we are looking at placing six or seven airplanes in the next 12 months although I have only got five."

The buying in of 17 Airbus aircraft from SIA Ð part of a wider deal by the Singapore airline to buy Boeing 777s Ð was controversial at the time. So how does a Boeing man feel about selling competitor aircraft?

"Great question. I used to be the guy who told customers that the Boeing 777 was a better aircraft than the Airbus A340," he said.

"Here it is very much about price. I certainly never take anything away from the Boeing 777 and we are very careful about deciding who we offer these airplanes to. Some airlines really look for cheap airplanes and the Boeing 777 is not one of them."

Source: Flight Daily News