Asia's economic crisis has finally begun to hit one of the region's sturdier blue chip carriers, Singapore Airlines (SIA), which is slipping delivery of four of its Boeing 747-400 and 777 orders. Meanwhile, Philippines Airlines (PAL) is to defer delivery of three Airbus A320 and two more 747s, while Malaysian Airlines (MAS) is refinancing its fleet of 777s.

SIA has confirmed that it is deferring delivery of a Pratt & Whitney PW4000-powered 747-400 by 13 months until March 2000 and adds that "-there will most probably be more deferrals" as the airline reviews its remaining fleet requirements for 1999-2000. It is understood that the airline has postponed the delivery of three Rolls-Royce Trent-powered 777s, originally due to enter service in late-1999.

SIA's South-East Asian capacity has already been trimmed by 2.5%, with reduced services to Bangkok, Jakarta and Kuala Lumpur. Overall projected available seat-kilometre and capacity-tonne kilometre growth has now been revised downwards.

PAL is similarly cutting back on the introduction of new equipment. The airline has reached agreement with Airbus to defer deliveries of its final three CFM International CFM56-powered A320s on order for an as yet undetermined period. The carrier has already accepted delivery of four A320s, but will now take only five more aircraft before the end of 1998, rather than eight.

It has also increased the number of General Electric CF6-powered 747-400s it is seeking to defer from four to six. The carrier was originally due to take delivery of all eight 747-400s on order between next month and December 1999. Its latest revised plan calls for the delivery of only two aircraft in the second half of 1998 and the postponement of the remainder for an indeterminate period.

Having failed to find takers for its five R-R Trent-powered 777-200 deliveries in 1998, MAS is seeking to alternatively re-finance the four twinjets delivered in 1997. It is close to finalising a $100 million sale-and-lease back deal with Singapore Aircraft Leasing Enterprise for its first 777, and intends to seek similar agreements for the remaining three.

Source: Flight International