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SAS evaluates A340 lease extensions

Scandinavian Airlines is refurbishing the cabins of three Airbus A340s and may extend leases on some of the aircraft, though A330s will form the backbone of the carrier's long-haul fleet.

The SAS Group carrier has eight A340-300s built between 1997 and 2002, in addition to four A330-300s manufactured in 2002 and 2003, Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database shows. One of the widebodies – an A340 – has been leased to another operator.

Four new A330s are scheduled to join Scandinavian's fleet later this year or next year, replacing the same number of A340s. However, SAS says it might prolong some of the other A340s' leases.

It declined to specify how long the type will remain part of the fleet.

Scandinavian has ordered eight A350-900s and holds options on another six. Deliveries are scheduled to begin in 2018.

The fuel price decline since last year has played no role in the decision to revamp the A340s' cabins, which was taken in 2013, says SAS.

Swiss maintenance provider SR Technics has been contracted to update the cabins of three A340s and four A330s. The first aircraft, an A330 (registration LN-RKN), is undergoing the interior modification in combination with a heavy C-check and exterior painting at the MRO provider's facilities in Zurich. The aircraft is due to be redelivered to the airline in mid-February.

The next aircraft is scheduled to be completed in March, and the remaining five are due to be finished by the autumn.

SAS declined to comment on the financial impact of the Swiss franc's appreciation in value since the Alpine nation's central bank moved earlier this month to remove a cap on the exchange rate with the euro.

SR Technics downplays any potential negative currency impact. "We shall have to see how things develop," says the MRO specialist. "Right now there is no need for us to take remedial action."

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