EgyptAir is undertaking a major fleet simplification programme which will involve the disposal of its remaining Boeing widebodies.

Earlier this year, the airline dropped orders for five new Airbus A318s and two A340-600s after negotiating a switch for five A320s and seven A330-200s. Delivery of the A330s will start in June, replacing the airline's seven A300-600Rs.

The A300/A330 switch is part of a series of measures revealed by chief executive Sherif Gamal designed to reduce the Egyptian flag carrier's losses, which exceeded $300 million in the 2002-3 financial year. The fleet changes are designed to reduce the number of aircraft types operated from eight to five, which will yield significant savings in maintenance and operating costs. EgyptAir will dispose of its two Boeing 747-300s and five Boeing 777-200ERs - the latter having only been delivered in the last two to five years.

After the plan is completed, EgyptAir will operate 35 aircraft - 16 A320/A321s, seven A330-200s, three A340-200s, three Boeing 737-500s as well as four ATR 42-500 turboprops. The airline also has two A300B4 freighters.

Meanwhile, EgyptAir, converted into a holding company with six affiliates a year ago, is negotiating to buy a 40% controlling stake in Air Cairo, a new charter company which will replace the bankrupt Shorouk Air - its joint venture with Kuwait Airways. The airline will launch next month, serving Egypt's key tourist destinations.

Source: Flight International