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EgyptAir eyes Chicago, Toronto and Washington with new 777-300ERs

EgyptAir plans to launch service to new North American destinations next year after it takes delivery of its last pair of Boeing 777-300ERs.

The Star Alliance carrier in March took delivery of the first of six new 777-300ERs, which it is temporarily using on its daily Cairo-London Heathrow service. EgyptAir has since added a second 777-300ER and placed the aircraft on its thrice weekly Cairo-Tokyo service.

EgyptAir group chairman and CEO Hussein Massoud says the carrier's next two 777-300ERs are scheduled to be delivered in November and December of this year and will be used on its Cairo-New York JFK service. He adds the last two 777-300ERs from its six-aircraft acquisition will be delivered in 2011 and used on new North American routes.

"We are thinking either Washington, Chicago or Toronto," Massoud told ATI during a Star Alliance event in Sao Paulo.

Washington Dulles and Chicago O'Hare are hubs for Star Alliance member United Airlines while Toronto is a hub for Star member Air Canada. No carrier currently operates non-stop services between Cairo and Washington, Chicago or Toronto, according to schedules in Innovata.

New York JFK is currently EgyptAir's only destination in the Americas. The carrier operates one daily flight on the Cairo-New York JFK route with 777-200s.

While EgyptAir plans to use its last two 777-300ERs to expand its North American network, Massoud says the new 777-300ERs are mainly being acquired to replace the carrier's older 777-200s. EgyptAir owns five 777-200s, and last year hired German bank DVB's aviation asset management division to re-market three of these aircraft.

All six of the new 777-300ERs are being leased. The fist two 777-300ERs have been leased from GECAS.

While EgyptAir's first 777-300ER initially replaced the 777-200 used on its daily Cairo-London Heathrow service, Massoud says the carrier will later this year switch this flight to the Airbus A330-300. He says EgyptAir will take delivery in August of the first of five new A330-300s.

Massoud explains EgyptAir plans to use the 777-300ER that is now on the London route to increase its Tokyo Narita service from three to six weekly flights.

He says EgyptAir, which already operates seven A330-200s, will receive the other four A330-300s from its outstanding order next year. He says these will all be growth aircraft used to open new routes to Africa and the Far East.

EgyptAir already has unveiled plans to expand its network in eastern and western Africa with additional 737-800s. Last year the carrier decided to swap its 2008 order for two 777-300ERs, which would have expanded its 777-300ER fleet to eight aircraft in 2013, for eight additional 737-800s.

Massoud says four of these additional 737-800s will be delivered from September through December of this year. EgyptAir earlier this month unveiled plans to launch thrice weekly service to Copenhagen from 1 October using 737-800s. But Massoud says EgyptAir will mainly use its additional 737-800s to launch services within Africa.

EgyptAir is significantly expanding its African network as part of a project with Star to improve the alliance's connections throughout the continent. EgyptAir, which currently operates eight 737-800s, joined Star in 2008.

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