TNT's decision to restructure its air cargo operations under a single grouping based at its hub in Liège, Belgium, will see Air Foyle cease flying for the express package company when its contract expires in May 2000.

TNT's director of airline operations, Niky Terzakis, says it aims to have an air operator's certificate by the fourth quarter of this year to enable its new "TNT Airways" to begin operations with the first of 14 A300B4 freighters it plans to acquire.

"We also aim to have one or two British Aerospace 146QTs flying with the airline and then gradually integrate the remaining aircraft," says Terzakis.

TNT's European network is served by 19 British Aerospace 146QTs, eight Boeing 727-200 freighters and additional wet-leased aircraft. Eight of the 146s are flown under contract by the UK's Air Foyle. The rest are seconded to TNT-owned Panair in Spain and Italy's Mistral Air. The 727s are flown by Denmark's Sterling European Airlines.

Air Foyle employs over 70 pilots on the TNT contract. Offers have been made to the crews to transfer to the new airline.

Sterling will continue to operate the 727s as these aircraft are to be replaced by larger Airbus A300s by 2001. Terzakis says there are no firm plans to introduce a new 727-sized freighter, but aircraft such as the Airbus A320 family could be acquired in the longer term if a freighter version is developed.

Source: Flight International