Herman de Wulf/BRUSSELS

CityBird is to expand its fleet next year with the acquisition of Boeing 767s and McDonnell Douglas (MDC) MD-11 freighters.

The Belgian low-fare scheduled airline, which began operations earlier this year with two MD-11s on transatlantic routes, will take delivery of two 268-seat 767-300ERs in February and March 1998. According to CityBird's chief executive Georges Gutelman, two aircraft will be acquired on long- term lease from Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services. One of the 767s is being delivered directly from Boeing, while the second is a 1996-built example which had previously been leased to Vietnam Airlines.

CityBird has also placed orders with MDC for two MD-11 freighters for delivery in December 1998 and January 1999. "Our plans for the two freighters are confidential at this stage", says Gutelman. Swisscargo, Swissair's air-freight subsidiary, recently bought all available cargo capacity on CityBird ßights, because of the reduced cargo capacity now available on Sabena services, in which Swissair has a 49.5% interest. Swisscargo is also in talks to acquire Lufthansa Cargo's 24.5% stake in Luxembourg's Cargolux.

Sabena's freight capacity has been reduced as it has replaced its Boeing 747 combi and MDC DC-10-30 convertible freighter fleet with the Airbus A330/A340, and terminated a dedicated freighter service to Africa.

CityBird will receive the second of its two firmly ordered MD-11 passenger aircraft in March, which is due to replace an MD-11 on lease from World Airways. "We could retain the World aircraft, and we are examining whether it would make sense to operate three MD-11s," says Gutelman.

Source: Flight International