SAS Group is looking at the potential of the re-engined Airbus A320 and Boeing 737 as a replacement for its narrowbody fleet, and reiterated its interest in the Bombardier CSeries.

The group, which includes Scandinavian Airlines, has been wrestling with timescales for replacing its remaining Boeing MD-80s and older 737s.

It expects this process to begin in 2014-15 and says there "may be three interesting options to choose from".

While Airbus and Boeing have pushed back their all-new short-haul aircraft horizon to beyond 2020, it states, a re-engined A320 or 737 could be available in 2015-16. The company says the CSeries remains a third alternative.

SAS Group has been removing MD-80s from its fleet as part of the capacity cuts demanded by its 'Core SAS' efficiency programme.

It has sold 20 of the type to US-based Allegiant Air under two contracts - one covering two aircraft, the other 18 aircraft - and 17 of these had been parked by the end of 2009 ready for delivery. Twelve of these 17 are from the Scandinavian Airlines fleet, and five are from Spanair.

SAS Group has already confirmed that it is retaining some two dozen MD-80s. It says their cost per seat, at an oil price of $700 per tonne, is still 10% lower than new aircraft of the same size.

While the company has explored technical modifications to reduce the type's noise levels, it says in its newly-released annual report: "So far this attempt has not had satisfactory results."

But it has been using an adapted take-off procedure, which it terms a 'cut-back', to enable it to operate MD-80s at night from Copenhagen, where there is a strict noise curfew.

The company also has around 15 older-variant Boeing 737s, all of which are leased.

Under the capacity reductions of its 'Core SAS' restructuring, Scandinavian Airlines will operate a Copenhagen-based short-haul and regional fleet of 44 aircraft, a Stockholm-based fleet of 36, and an Oslo-based fleet of 54. It will also have nine long-haul jets based at Copenhagen and Stockholm.

Source: Flight International