DHL Airways, the US airline arm of the express package carrier, is negotiating for Boeing to acquire and convert on its behalf more than 40 Boeing 757-200s. The deal would be almost identical to the agreement reached between DHL's European arm and Boeing for 44 converted ex-British Airways 757s.

A senior source at DHL Airways says the carrier wants "about the same number of 757s as for the European operation". The company revealed its plans for the 757 to replace the 727 at Cargo Facts' Aircraft Symposium in Miami last week. Thirty four 757s will replace nine 727-200Fs already in the fleet and 25 additional high-gross weight 727-200 Advs which DHL Airways will shortly take on short-term leases. The carrier will use 11 of the interim 727-200Advs to replace an equal number of 727-100s.

In addition, DHL Airways plans to take at least another seven 757s to replace the seven McDonnell Douglas DC-8-73Fs that it operates on North American and transatlantic routes. DHL would retire the DC-8s and the 727-100s first, but the plan calls for the carrier to retire all of its 727s by 2005.

Although all of the 40-plus 757 freighters would initially be based in the USA, it appears possible that DHL would expand deployment of the aircraft throughout its global network in the longer term. This is because DHL Airways is undertaking an operational merger within the global DHL Aviation enterprise.

The source also says that DHL Airways plans to add nine more Airbus A300 freighters to its North American fleet by 2005, to give it a fleet of 15.

Shifting US economic conditions or other changes in DHL Airways' own growth pattern could affect the number of aircraft that the operator would want, says the source, but stresses that the company is planning the big new 757 commitment and the extra A300s purely for growth needs expected by 2005.

Source: Flight International