Lufthansa CityLine is to make a decision by the middle of 1998 on whether to keep its fleet of Avro RJ85s in service after buying new 70-seat regional jets.

The company says that fuel and maintenance costs for the Avros are high because of their four engines, and that the maintenance and training cost advantages of operating a homogeneous fleet - should CityLine decide to complement its Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ) fleet with the stretched, 70-seat CRJ Series 700 - are being considered. CityLine is looking at a double-digit order for a 70-seater, to be introduced in 2001, and has long been interested in a stretched CRJ.

The airline is expecting to complete its Avro fleet with the delivery of the eighteenth aircraft in December. The new aircraft and seven of the others are owned by CityLine, while the remaining ten are leased - under varying terms, for periods of about nine years - from Lufthansa Leasing.

CityLine says that it may still choose to keep the type in service beyond 2001, because some destinations with short runways such as Florence and London City Airport can only be served by Avro RJs.

CityLine has seen Canadair's mock-up of the Series 700 interior, and has been briefed by Fairchild Dornier on its proposed 70- to 90-seat 728JET/928JET.

The airline is also interested in the Aero International (Regional) Air Jet 70 programme, which has yet to be launched as partnership talks with CASA and Saab Aircraft, as well as potential Far Eastern partners, continue.

Source: Flight International