Andrzej Jeziorski/WARSAW

LOT POLISH AIRLINES is planning to acquire a fleet of 50- to 70-seat regional jets, and spin off its regional operations into a separate company, according to vice-president Andrzej Slodownik.

The regional-jet purchase is part of a company fleet-strategy plan being drawn up to take the airline up to the year 2000 and beyond. The plan should be completed by the end of the year. Types under consideration are the Aero International (Regional) Avro RJ70 and Canadair Regional Jet, as well as the Fokker 70.

At the other end of the market, the airline is also considering buying Boeing 777s for expanded long-haul services - particularly to the Far East - after the year 2000.

LOT's current regional-turboprop fleet consists of seven ATR 72s, to be joined by an eighth by the middle of the year. These aircraft have been found to be too large and too slow on routes where rivals are operating jet-powered airliners.

The future of LOT's ATRs is now in question. "This is not an aircraft which can compete with regional jets. The ATR is designed for a different type of market," says Slodownik.

He adds that placing regional operations into a smaller subsidiary will cut costs, as demonstrated by other airlines such as Lufthansa. LOT may, however, need a smaller turboprop once the regional jet comes into service.

Slodownik says, that the airline also plans to spin off the technical services and information-technology areas, of its business. He predicts that the restructuring of the company will cut the workforce, from the current 3,900 to an eventual 2,500. Three years ago, LOT employed 7,000 workers.

The company expects a privatisation process advisor to be selected in March by Poland's transport and privatisation ministers. International candidates for the task include banks, consultancies and law firms.

LOT became a state-owned share company, on 30 November 1992. After privatisation, the State Treasury is expected to keep 51% of the stock, while 20% will be sold to employees and 29% will be made available to outside investors.

Source: Flight International