Andrzej Jeziorski/MUNICH

LOT POLISH Airlines is expanding its fleet with an order for four new Boeing 737s, including two new-generation -800s, in response to rising domestic and international traffic.

The order, believed to be worth $160 million, is for two 144-seat 737-400s and two 189-seat 737-800s. The smaller aircraft will be delivered early in the second quarter of 1997, while the -800s are to be handed over by mid-1998.

LOT says that financing for the deal is yet to be confirmed, although it is likely to be provided by a banking consortium with guarantees from the US Eximbank export guarantee bank. The airline says that all the aircraft will be fitted with improved avionics, compatible with the US global-positioning-system navigation network.

Traffic for the first half of 1996 was up by 11.4% on the same period of 1995, with 905,000 passengers carried. The most dramatic rise has been in charters, with the passenger figure tripling to 33,000.

Numbers on scheduled international services grew by 10.7%, to 725,000, while domestic-services traffic increased by 15.5%, with 146,000 passengers travelling. The average load factor rose from 45% in 1995 to 50% on domestic services, and has reached 64% overall. The airline expects to carry a total of 2.1 million passengers this year.

LOT now operates a fleet of five Boeing 737-400s, six 737-500s, two 767-200s and two -300s, and eight AI(R) ATR 72-200 turbo-props. The company is also has one 767-300ER on lease from Gulf Air, and expects a 767-300 in May 1997.

LOT has been a state share company since 1992 and is scheduled for privatisation in 1997, with the National Treasury expected to retain a 51% stake in the airline. Negotiations are to continue from the end of the month with six consortia, which have emerged as lead candidates to act as advisors for the privatisation process.

LOT says that the selection process has been delayed by the Government's invalidation of the first round of bidding for the advisor's contract.

Source: Flight International