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Afghanistan's Safi looking for narrowbodies and a widebody

Privately-owned Afghan carrier Safi Airways is in the market to acquire newer narrowbody aircraft and one more widebody aircraft.

Safi chief commercial officer, Claus Fischer, says the Afghan carrier has two Boeing 737-300s and one Boeing 767-200ER but "we're looking at a total fleet of six aircraft at the end of this year" and 10 aircraft by April 2011.

It is now looking at getting either two Airbus A319s or two Boeing 737-700s either on operating lease or purchase, he says.

The carrier also wants to add a second widebody, either on operating lease on purchase, and will consider either an Airbus A330 or Boeing 767, says Fischer.

The A330 is a newer aircraft type than the 767 and it carries more cargo, he says, adding that the carrier's cargo hold on its Frankfurt route is always full.

A second widebody is needed because it wants to launch services from Kabul to Jeddah in Saudi Arabia and Moscow in Russia, he adds.

The airline recently launched a five-times weekly service from Kabul to Frankfurt using its 767.

It is its first service to Europe and its other international services are from Kabul to: Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Sharjah and Kuwait City.

On the 15 July the airline will be moving from terminal two at Dubai to terminal one so passengers can have more convenient connections, he adds.

Safi until two days ago served four domestic routes but it dropped that because of steep discounting between Ariana Afghan Airlines, Kam Air and Pamir, says Fischer.

The carrier was also concerned about renewed fighting in some parts of the country, he adds.

Safi recently started using the Amadeus, Galileo and Worldspan global distribution systems and Fischer anticipates that in four weeks from now issuance of tickets through Sabre will be available.

He also says the carrier is also looking to sign interline agreements with overseas carriers particularly those in the US because Kabul-Washington DC is the biggest city-pair.

Safi is backed by Afghanistan's Safi Group, a conglomerate that imports steel into the country and is heavily involved in Afghanistan's agriculture sector.

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