By Leithen Francis in Singapore

Singapore Airlines’ leisure carrier SilkAir has issued a much anticipated request for proposals (RFP) for narrowbody aircraft, namely Airbus A320-family aircraft and the newer models of Boeing 737s.

SilkAir chief executive Mike Barclay says the RFP was issued yesterday to Airbus and Boeing and the relevant engine makers, International Air Engines (IAE) and CFM International.

He says the airline will consider the Airbus A320 family and Next Generation Boeing 737s and plans to order 15-20 aircraft or possibly more if it opts for Boeing, says Barclay.

SilkAir currently operates a fleet of 13 Airbus A320-family aircraft and has a few more due to arrive in 2008 but none after that.

The carrier expects to 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 having a RFP for regional jet aircraft but later decided against it.

Barclay says: “We couldn’t find enough regional flights to support” a regional jet fleet.

Rather than order only two or three regional jet aircraft, 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's premium news and data service Air Transport Intelligence in February that if the airline decided to add regional jet aircraft it would consider Bombardier and Embraer.

But he also if it were to add regional jet aircraft it would need to order enough to achieve economies of scale and make it worthwhile having two completely different aircraft types in SilkAir’s 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 marketed the A318 to SilkAir but Barclay says he has ruled this aircraft out

Source: Flight International