Airbus makes breakthrough as airline divides narrowbody deal between A320 family and Boeing 737-800

THY Turkish Airlines has finalised a fleet-renewal plan to acquire up to 57 aircraft over the next five years, comprising a narrowbody mix of 31 Airbus A320 family aircraft and up to 21 Boeing 737-800s, as well as five Airbus A330 widebodies.

The deal, which also includes a batch of secondhand Airbus aircraft, is set to be announced by Turkey's prime minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan at a NATO summit in Istanbul this week. THY had originally planned to order 51 aircraft for its fleet renewal, but increased this to 57 to cover greater forecast demand. Deliveries of the new aircraft will begin in mid-2005.

THY operates an all-737 short- haul fleet of 14 -400s and 25 -800s (it also has 10 stored BAE Systems Avro RJs). Airbus looks to have achieved a breakthrough by securing an order for 19 A320s and 12 A321s. The airline will retain the 737-800, however, ordering 16 more and adding five options. THY will use these to replace leased 737-400s.

Senior sources close to the selection say THY, which is to phase out its five remaining A310-300s, will take five A330s for its long-haul operations. It plans to use the type for new services as well as on existing high-density European routes. The airline, which operates long-haul services with its fleet of seven A340-300s, has long held ambitions to acquire A330s. Several years ago, THY considered taking up its three A340 options as A330-200s to cover its A310 phase-out, but did not firm up the plan.

To boost capacity in the interim, and to fill the void left by the withdrawal of its Avro RJ fleet, THY is adding six secondhand A320s (four ex-Swissair, one ex-Iberia and one ex-Sabena) and two ex-Swissair A321-100s.

The airline has yet to select a type for its long-term regional needs, and is evaluating offers from all the major suppliers. Airbus is promoting the A318 configured with 126 seats, and Boeing its 717. The regional offerings include the Bombardier CRJ700, Embraer 170 and 175, as well as the ATR 72-500 and Bombardier Dash 8 Q400.



Source: Flight International