Korean Air Lines (KAL) is accelerating plans to phase out its entire fleet of Fokker 100s and Boeing MD-82/83s with the purchase of up to 40 replacement narrowbody aircraft.

Industry sources say that KAL's evaluation has intensified in recent weeks and that a type selection is expected by the end of the year. The South Korean flag carrier had been aiming originally to make a final decision in late 1998.

Competing European and US airframe and engine manufacturers have been asked to submit a set of pricing proposals for up to 40 180-seat-sized aircraft, based on either 25 firm orders and 15 options, or 30 firm orders and ten options. KAL aims to take delivery of the aircraft between 2000 and 2002.

Airbus is proposing its A321, while Boeing is offering its 737-800. The powerplant selection will be between the CFM International CFM56-5 and International Aero Engines V2500 for the A321, and the CFM56-7 for the 737.

KAL wants to trade in its fleet of 12 Fokker 100s, 11 MD-82s and three MD-83s as part of any purchase deal. The Fokker 100s are relatively new, ranging from between two and five years old. The carrier took delivery of its first MD-82 in 1985, while the 160-seat MD-83s entered service in 1996.

The phase-out of the narrowbody aircraft is part of wider fleet-renewal programme which has already seen the disposal of KAL's 12 Boeing 727s and three McDonnell Douglas DC-10s. The carrier has also begun to replace its eight Airbus A300B4s, with six being traded in for four A300-600Rs from Ansett Worldwide and Japan Fleet Services. KAL says that the remaining two B4s will be gone by November.

Outstanding orders consist of two Boeing 747-400s and one -400F for delivery in 1998 and 1999, one 777-200 in 1998 and another in 1999, eight -300s between 1998 and 2000, two Airbus A330-200s in 1998 and one in 1999 and eight remaining -300s out of the ten ordered by 2000. KAL holds options on another 19 widebodies until 2001.

Source: Flight International