Flying Colours Airlines is planning to increase its narrowbody fleet to eight Boeing 757-200s within three years, and has begun evaluating the Airbus A330-200 and Boeing 777 for its long-haul expansion plans, according to chairman Errol Cossey.

The new UK charter carrier took delivery of its first aircraft, a 757 leased from International Lease Finance (ILFC), on 26 February, and plans to begin revenue services on 6 March. It is due to receive three further Rolls-Royce RB.211-powered 757s, two from ILFC and one from GATX, by early May.

Three of the 235-seat aircraft will be based at Manchester, and one at London Gatwick, initially serving holiday destinations in Spain and Greece.

"We do have a long-haul requirement in the future," says Cossey, who adds that services to Australia, the Pacific Rim, the Caribbean and Mexico are under consideration. Flying Colours, the in-house airline of the Flying Colours Leisure Group, already has an agreement with British Airways to take over the UK flag carrier's services between Gatwick and the Caribbean, via Tampa, Florida, starting on 30 March. The route is flown on behalf of BA by its former charter subsidiary, Caledonian Airways, using one of BA's McDonnell Douglas DC-10-30s.

According to Cossey, the DC-10 will be taken over by a separate company, called Airline Management, and operated in BA colours under a franchising agreement. "BA contacted us and asked us to go [on the Gatwick-Caribbean route]," says Cossey. There is considerable speculation in BA that Flying Colours will eventually take over low-yield routes in the Americas.

"I don't think we're going to stick to operating one ageing DC-10," says Cossey, talking about his development plans for long-haul operations. "Our problem is whether to skip to the next generation. The 777 gives the right economics, passenger- comfort levels and range capabilities. The A330-200 also looks interesting for long haul."

Flying Colours will base a leased Airbus A320 at Glasgow between May and October, which Cossey says will eventually be replaced by one of the extra four 757s.

Source: Flight International