Royal Brunei Airlines (RBA), seeking to enhance its status as a "medium-sized hub and spoke Asian carrier", is planning an aggressive B$1.12 billion ($630 million) revamp over the next 10 years that will incorporate a fleet and network expansion.

The state-owned airline's board approved the business plan in April. It was drafted by the airline's management team, which since September has been led by RBA chief executive Peter Foster, a former Cathay Pacific Airways executive who was appointed by the Brunei government and given the challenge of turning around the loss-making carrier's performance.

The ambitious business plan ambitious one that will see its fleet increasing to 18 aircraft from 10 by 2013. RBA's two Boeing 757s will be phased out after two leased Airbus A319s arrive this year, while more narrowbodies are to be be acquired in the years ahead. In addition, RBA's fleet of eight 767-300ERs will be replaced and by 2013 the fleet will be made up of 12 new narrowbodies and six new widebodies, half of them leased and the others purchased.

RBA also aims to launch new services by 2005 to several Asia-Pacific destinations. Non-stop services between Bangkok and Frankfurt are due to be launched this year, while non-stop services will be added between Brunei and London next year. The carrier's London services currently transit in the Middle East.

RBA now serves around 20 international destinations and its existing hub and spoke system through its Bandar Seri Begawan base will be revamped in October with new schedules. Frequencies will at the same time be increased on existing regional routes as additional narrowbody aircraft are added in the years ahead.

A voluntary retirement scheme will be launched while some in-house divisions such as engineering and maintenance will be spun off. RBA says "very conservative estimates" call for it to make "steadily increasing profits" from 2005. It expects to be "cash neutral" in 2003/4 and "cash positive each year thereafter".

Source: Airline Business