Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

EasyJet expects to finalise an order with Boeing in August for 12 new 737-300s as it works to treble its fleet size by 2000. The Luton, UK-based low-cost airline is also preparing to receive its own Air Operator's Certificate (AOC).

According to easyJet chairman Stelios Haji-Loannou, deposits have been paid to Boeing for 12 737-300s for delivery between August 1998 and the end of 1999. "We will add our sixth 737-300 in November, purchased from Germania, plus the six new aircraft in 1998 and six in 1999," he says. This will bring the fleet to 18 by 2000. Haji-Loannou says that a firm contract should be signed with Boeing in August.

He says that the -300 was selected over the Next Generation 737-700 for a combination of reasons. "The new-700 flies higher, faster and further than the -300, but we don't need these attributes and, anyway, the first slots are not available before 2000," he says, adding that there is also a price differential between the older and new models. "Being a small airline, it was considered better to stick with our existing model," he says.

Having began operations in 1995, using the AOC of GB Airways, easyJet has been flying since mid-1996 under Air Foyle's AOC. "We expect to be awarded our own AOC later this year," says Haji-Loannou, adding that some 50 flightcrew are now employed, including chief pilot Mike Keane, who was previously with charter operator Britannia Airways.

easyJet, which has domestic and continental European routes, is achieving a utilisation of 11h/day with its five 148-seat 737-300s, says Haji-Loannou, while load factors are in the "high 60s [%]". It is this utilisation rate which makes it economically viable to purchase new aircraft, he explains.

Source: Flight International