Iberia hopes to finalise its long-haul fleet-renewal order by next month, having dropped a plan to take secondhand Boeing 747-400s from British Airways as an alternative to new-build aircraft from Airbus or Boeing.

Iberia needs eight new long- range aircraft to replace its six Boeing 747-200s and has been evaluating offers from Airbus and Boeing for the Airbus A340-600, 747-400 and the Boeing 777-300ER. The new aircraft would be delivered from 2004. Iberia confirms that it had been discussing the option of taking 747s from BA - a minority shareholder and a Oneworld alliance partner - but decided it would be too costly in the long run. "We were looking at aircraft that were about eight years old, but these would have to be replaced in eight to 10 years, so we would be back to where we are with the current fleet," he says.

BA has 56 747-400s, and has been seeking ways to reduce its fleet as part of a move to 777s.

Iberia says it was close to an order decision late last month, but postponed it until late January to negotiate better terms. The airline says it has also reduced its planned order size from 10 aircraft to eight, and will take up to eight options.

Source: Flight International