RELAUNCHED THAI domestic carrier Orient Express Air (OEA) plans to acquire additional wide body aircraft and extend its services to Asian and European destinations.

According to a senior airline source, OEA is negotiating to purchase three ex-British Airways Lockheed L-1011 TriStars. The aircraft are intended for use on charter flights between Europe and Bangkok and its northern Thai hub of Chiang Mai, from early 1996.

In addition, the airline wants to start scheduled services to other countries in the region, including neighboring Myanmar and Vietnam. It is understood to be discussing co-operation with SilkAir of Singapore.

It faces opposition from Thai Airways International and is prevented from operating on routes from Bangkok in direct competition with the national flag carrier.

OEA, formerly Cambodian International Airlines (CIA), was renamed and relaunched on 11 August as a Thai domestic carrier. CIA was forced to close at the end of 1994 by the Cambodian Government, to make way for new Malaysian joint-venture carrier Royal Air Cambodge

It now operates between Chiang Mai and the northeast Thai cities of Udon Thani, Ubon Ratchathani and Khon Kaen. OEA will add Hatyai to the network in early October, and has been given approval for eight more Thai routes, including Korat and Surat Thani.

OEA's fleet now consists of a Boeing 727-200Adv and 737-200. To expand its services, the airline is due to take delivery of an additional ex-Delta Air Lines 727-200 shortly, followed by a third 727 in October.

Source: Flight International