Spanair will begin talks with Airbus next year with a view to acquiring 10-15 A320-family aircraft as it aims to gradually replace its Boeing MD-80 fleet.

The Star Alliance carrier is cutting back its MD fleet and last month indicated that there would not necessarily be an early replacement for jets returned to lessors.

But a Spanair spokesman says: "We have the substitute the whole fleet of MD-80s."

He adds: "In the first half of 2010 we will talk to Airbus to know [how] many aircraft we can add to our fleet.

"Most of the leasing contacts will finish from September up to the beginning of June 2010. When any leasing contract finishes we will return it to the lessor.

"We aim to substitute those aircraft with Airbus - we will add A319s, A320s and A321s. We are not talking to anyone else."

There is no delivery timetable but the spokesman says the airline is not worried about obtaining potential aircraft slots. It is unclear whether the aircraft will be new or second-hand.

The spokesman adds that Spanair will retain the same capacity but will improve usage by operating aircraft for longer each day.

Spanair has nine Boeing MD-87s, two MD-82s and seven MD-83s aircraft. The airline says it will retain its four-strong Boeing 717 fleet.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news