Paul Lewis/MIAMI

LanChile is interested in Boeing 767 freighter conversions as replacements for its McDonnell Douglas DC-8s.

The Chilean national carrier operates 13 767-300ER passenger aircraft, but will begin to replace these twinjets with seven new Airbus A340-300s, the first of which is to be delivered next September. It operates one 767-300ER freighter and has two on order, but requires freighters to replace its five DC-8 Series 73Fs.

The two 767Fs are due for delivery next month and next year. "We may order more," says Jorge Castillo, LanChile leasing and insurance director. An alternative solution would be to modify some of its passenger 767s, five of which are leased, but as yet there is no supplemental type certificate for a conversion. Boeing is working on a 767 conversion programme, but is expected to focus initially on the smaller -200 model when the project is launched.

"A340 delivery dates have been matched to the expiry of 767 leases, but we have a lot of flexibility to extend, if necessary," says Castillo. The second A340 is due for delivery in October next year, with another two arriving in October and November 2001, two more in 2002 and the remaining aircraft in 2003.

LanChile has purchase rights on another seven A340s and, providing these are exercised, it has convertible rolling options on seven more. These can be converted to larger Rolls-Royce Trent 500-powered A340-600s with 18 months notice.

The first of six A320s will also be delivered next October, but no decision has been taken on the derivatives of the final 14 ordered. "I think we may stick with the A320, but we might eventually take A319s as part of our options. The airline has no plans to retain its 24 Boeing 737-200s as the aircraft do not have the range to operate to major regional destinations.

Meanwhile, LanChile could see some of its 767 capacity deployed on new LanPeru routes if Lima approves a new interchange law in mid-October permitting the use of Chilean-crewed aircraft. The start-up is to launch its first international route to Miami from 11 November, using two 737-200advs, and will lease two more soon.

Source: Flight International