Two Arab airlines, Royal Air Maroc (RAM) and Yemen Airways (Yemenia), are seeking bids from Airbus Industrie and Boeing to replace their short haul fleets and supply long-haul equipment.

Morrocan flag-carrier RAM has called for proposals this month for 20 A320s or Boeing 737s and four Airbus A330-200s or Boeing 767-400ERs. The combined order is expected to be worth $1.3 billion, with delivery over 12 years from 2002.

RAM operates 25 Boeing 737s including six ageing -200/200C Advs along with 13 younger -400/500s and six Next Generation -700/800s. Two 757-200s are also operated along with two 747-200s and a single -400, while five more 737s - three -700s and two -800s - are due for delivery over the next two years. Two ATR 42 turboprops are also operated.

RAM senior vice-president strategy and international relations Hamid Benbrahim El-Andaloussi, reveals that, in February, RAM reached agreement to set up a joint Dakar-based regional airline with Air Senegal. RAM will hold a 51% share in the airline, named Air Senegal International, which should start operations at year-end.

Talks are underway with Bombardier about acquiring regional aircraft for the venture, says El-Andaloussi, which will initially operate two aircraft - a RAM 737-200 and either a Bombardier CRJ or a Dash 8 Q400 turboprop. RAM is also discussing a codeshare tie-up with Delta Air Lines.

Meanwhile, Yemenia is studying the A320 and 737 families to replace its fleet of four 727-200 Advs and three 737-200 Advs, says chairman Capt Abdul Kalek Al-Kadi. The airline also operates three Airbus A310-300s and is considering an order for two A330-300s for new long-haul routes. A fourth A310-300 will be delivered on lease from Airbus.

Four de Havilland Dash 7s and two DHC-6 Twin Otters are also operated. Two 727s and all four Dash 7s are for sale. One 737 has been converted for freight and others might be so modified after replacements arrive.

Source: Flight International