Iberia is evaluating Boeing and Airbus narrowbody types as it moves towards placing an order later this year for at least 28 aircraft, to replace its fleet of ageing 155-seat Boeing 727-200s.

The Spanish flag carrier says that the order will be divided between aircraft in the 200-seat and 150-seat categories. The requirement is pitching the Boeing 757 against the Airbus A321 in the larger category, and the next-generation 737 against the A320 for the 150-seat requirement. The airline issued requests for proposals to the manufacturers in mid-March, and both are understood already to have submitted bids. Deliveries of the aircraft would take place between 1998 and 2000.

Iberia declines to specify how many aircraft in each category would be ordered, but it is thought that at least 20 200-seaters will be required, with 150-seaters making up the balance. It is also understood that the carrier is planning to lease more than half of the aircraft, and is in talks with lessors.

The airline already operates eight 757s, with eight more on firm order, and 22 A320s, while its low-cost subsidiary, Viva Air, operates nine 737-300s. Iberia's 28 727s, manufactured between 1972 and 1979, do not meet Chapter 3 noise limits and therefore cannot be operated in Europe beyond 2002, unless they are hushkitted.

In early 1996, the European Commission approved plans by Spanish state-owned holding company Teneo to inject Ptas87 billion ($600 million) into the carrier, to cover restructuring costs.

Source: Flight International