Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Air New Zealand (ANZ) has taken advantage of the Asian crisis to conclude a deal with Boeing for the rapid delivery of six new 737-300s, which will allow it to accelerate the phase-out of its existing 737-200 ßeet. It is also believed to be in negotiations for additional 737s, including Next Generation models.

Deliveries of the six 737-300s will take place between October 1999 and April 2000, and up to five of the aircraft are believed to be "whitetails" that have already been completed against a now suspended order from Indonesian national carrier Garuda.

Boeing recently placed two other Garuda whitetails with US lessor Heller Financial, and has been discussing the deal with ANZ for several months.

ANZ declines to confirm details, saying only that it has taken the opportunity to benefit from current aircraft pricing.

The airline has 11 relatively young (12-18-year-old) 737-200 Advs which which will gradually be disposed of. ANZ has had a longstanding order for six CFM International CFM56-powered 737s, which was placed in 1991, to replace its -200s. It later decided, however, to equip the -200s with Stage 3 hushkits, and deferred delivery of the new 737s until at least 2001. In the meantime, three new 737-300s have been added on operating lease.

The deal with Boeing effectively confirms the original order, but discussions are believed to be under way for additional 737s to replace the remainder of the 737-200s, and provide for expansion. International Lease Finance is understood to have offered the airline Next Generation 737s, including -600s and -700s.

Source: Flight International