KIWI INTERNATIONAL Airlines is to continue to expand its route structure and fleet size after its planned emergence from US Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection later this month.

Jerry Murphy, Kiwi's president and chief executive, expects the Kiwi International Holdings investor group to gain control of the airline. The holding company, formed by Dr Charles Edwards and Wasatch Enterprises in 1996, pumped in $10 million to restart Kiwi flights, and plans to invest a further $6 million to obtain majority ownership of the carrier.

The Newark, New Jersey-based airline operates eight leased Boeing 727-200s and plans to lease two or three more 727s by the end of the year. "Sooner, rather than later, we will begin the transition to either leased Airbus A320s or the Boeing 737-300/400," says Murphy, adding that the airline needs to acquire up to 15 aircraft in 1998.

"We may add some 727-200s beyond those we plan to lease this year, or go directly to the A320 or 737," he says. Murphy says that Kiwi will need to begin the transition to newer aircraft in 1999, and he cites the Next Generation 737 family as the leading candidate.

Kiwi serves Atlanta, Chicago, Newark, Las Vegas, Orlando, San Juan and West Palm Beach, and services will be extended to those destinations. It is also eyeing three other Florida destinations.

Source: Flight International