By Leithen Francis in Singapore

Carrier seeks offers for A320s or 737s as it decides not to introduce smaller aircraft

Singapore Airlines' leisure carrier SilkAir has ruled out introducing regional jets and issued a request for proposals (RFP) for other narrowbody aircraft, namely Airbus A320-family aircraft and the newer models of Boeing 737s.

SilkAir chief executive Mike Barclay says the RFP was sent to Airbus and Boeing and the relevant engine makers, International Aero Engines and CFM International. He says the airline will consider Airbus A320-family aircraft and Boeing 737-600/700/800/900s and plans to order 15-20 aircraft or possibly more if it opts for Boeing, says Barclay.

SilkAir now operates a fleet of 13 Airbus A319s and A320s and has two more on order, but these are to be delivered before the end of 2008. The airline will place an order "by the end of this calendar year" and have the first delivered in 2009, says Barclay, adding that price will be "a prime consideration".

SilkAir had earlier considered also releasing an RFP for regional jet aircraft, but decided against it because "we couldn't find enough regional flights to support" a regional jet fleet, says Barclay. Rather than order only two or three regional jets, the airline decided it was better to minimise costs by continuing to have just one aircraft type in the fleet, he says.

Barclay told Flight International in March that if the airline decided to add regional jet aircraft it would consider Bombardier and Embraer. But he also said if it were to add regional jets it would need to order enough to achieve economies of scale and make it worthwhile having two completely different aircraft types in the fleet.

SilkAir was interested in regional jets because it would allow it to increase frequency on some routes, improve passenger loads on others and launch services to airports unable to support the A319. Airbus in recent months has pushed the smaller A318 to SilkAir, but Barclay says he has ruled this aircraft out.

Source: Flight International