Qatar Airways is in negotiations to acquire a fleet of modern narrowbodied aircraft to replace its Boeing 727s as it prepares to take on the role as designated national carrier.

The airline underwent a re-organisation early in 1997 which saw it boosting its long haul operations from Doha and replacing its two ageing Boeing 747-100s with three modern Airbus A300-600Rs, leased from Ansett Worldwide Aviation Services. At the same time, the airline undertook a major upgrade programme for its 135-seat 727-200Adv fleet which included an interior refurbishment, but the carrier has now decided to replace the aircraft.

Qatar has signed London-based Aircraft Leasing & Management to remarket the four 727s, which are 16-19 years old and are equipped with Pratt & Whitney JT8D-17 engines. The aircraft are being offered for release between mid-1998 and mid-1999. Negotiations are now under way to secure either Airbus A320s or Boeing 737-700/800s to replace the 727s.

Talks are believed to be taking place with leasing companies and manufacturers to acquire at least four new aircraft, and a deal is expected to be finalised to enable the first aircraft to enter service in the middle of this year.

Source: Flight International