Singapore Airlines (SIA) has issued a long-awaited request for proposals (RFP) to Airbus and Boeing covering new aircraft for modernisation and growth purposes. The competition will be a particularly heated one, as Boeing will be fighting to sign SIA as a launch customer for its 200- to 250-seat 7E7.

The RFPs were issued as representatives from the two airframe manufacturers were in Singapore last week for the Asian Aerospace show. Industry sources say SIA will be considering new aircraft to replace phased-out Airbus A310-300s and some of its older Boeing 747-400s, although the number required is unclear.

In the mid-size category the twin-aisle 7E7 is to be assessed, as well as possibly the single-aisle A321 and the 737-900, although there are many within the airline opposed to operating narrowbody types. In the larger category the A340-600 and 777-300ER are seen as contenders.

SIA expects to order aircraft "later this year", adding that the RFP is intended to cover both "long- and medium-haul and regional needs over the coming years".

"The make-up of the global network is changing, with some medium-haul and regional routes requiring larger-capacity aircraft while some long-haul markets have thinner traffic volumes," it says.

In 2001 SIA ordered 20 more 777-200s to replace A310s, but acknowledged that this was not its ideal aircraft given its larger size, and suggested it had little choice due to the widebody aircraft types available at the time.

The airline has since found the 777 to be too large for some routes. The carrier recently said publicly that it is interested in the 7E7 and industry sources say this interest has increased in recent weeks.

Source: Flight International