Julian Moxon/Paris

FINNAIR IS to buy or lease four Boeing 757s for its charter operations, marking the first acquisition of Boeings in the airline's history.

The carrier says the aircraft is "exactly the right size" for its leisure flight programme, although it looked at rival McDonnell Douglas (MDC) and Airbus aircraft.

The 220-seat 757s will cost around $55 million each, and will be used on direct routes from Finland to the Canary Islands, the Middle East and India. Transatlantic operations are also being considered. The aircraft will replace a pair of leased Airbus A300s and an MDC MD-83. The latter will now form part of the MDC DC-9 replacement programme announced by Finnair in 1995. Seventeen DC-9s are being progressively replaced with used MD-80s, although the final number to be introduced to the fleet remains "subject to market conditions", says the airline.

Finnair has operated MDC aircraft almost exclusively for the past 50 years, but the carrier is now looking at offerings from all three major manufacturers for a new family of aircraft to serve its European network. A decision on this is not expected until the end of the decade.

Source: Flight International