A working group of 13 Star Alliance member carriers has engaged with aircraft and engine manufacturers to outline their preferred specifications and timelines for the next-generation successors to the Airbus A320 and Boeing 737. The move, revealed in the alliance's staff newsletter, comes as the airlines prepare for a sharp rise in retirements in 2010, which is expected to peak in 2016.

While the group initially focused on the 110- to 180-seat range it has since been extended to include regional jets with a capacity of more than 90 seats. While the carriers are seeking a 30% fuel-consumption improvement and a 25% reduction in cash operating costs, fleet co-ordinator Tore Landfald accepts that smaller gains are more likely in the nearer term: "Advanced turbofan and open rotor technology to allow [the 30% gain] won't be available for another eight to 12 years, so the next generation of engines will deliver 15% improvement in the near term."

Source: Flight International