Loss-making carrier will replace existing aircraft with 12 narrowbodies and six widebodies as part of 10-year revamp

Royal Brunei Airlines is planning a complete fleet overhaul and expansion under a revamp strategy approved by its board.

The loss-making carrier's 10-year, B$1.12 billion ($630 million) business plan will see its fleet of eight Boeing 767-300ERs and two Boeing 757s replaced with 12 new narrowbodies and six new widebodies.

Royal Brunei already has two Airbus A319s on order with lessor CIT Aerospace, with deliveries set for later this year. The 10 additional narrowbodies and six new widebodies will be acquired in the next 10 years in a mix of lease and purchase arrangements.The business plan calls for an investment of B$56.8 million in the 2003-4 financial year, B$324 million between 2004 and 2008 for the purchase of new narrowbody aircraft, and B$730 million between 2008 and 2013 for the purchase and lease of new widebodies and narrowbodies.

Last year Royal Brunei admitted being in severe financial difficulty and its government owner warned that no more state funds would be put into the carrier, thought to have never made a profit. In September former Cathay Pacific Airways senior executive Peter Foster took over as chief executive.

The airline also plans a network expansion that should see new services launched to Auckland, Ho Chi Minh City, Seoul, Sydney and Tokyo, by 2005. It also plans to launch non-stop services between Bangkok, Thailand, and Frankfurt, Germany, this year. Next year it will introduce non-stop flights between Brunei and London. Current flights make a stop in the Middle East.

Source: Flight International