Atlantic Airlines is looking to add up to six Rolls-Royce RB211-powered Tupolev Tu-204-120C freighters if European certification is achieved next year.

Russell Ladkin, managing director of the Coventry, UK-based freight carrier, says the acquisition of up to three of the RB211-535E4B-powered freighters from Egyptian leasing specialist Sirocco Aerospace next year and three more in 2005 is being considered. Ahead of European certification, Atlantic has taken over the wet lease of two Tu-204-120Cs that Sirocco and its parent Air Cairo had been operating for TNT Express through UK company Cougar Leasing, which went into administration earlier this year.

The two 27,000kg (59,500lb) payload twinjets operate on TNT's European air network from its hub at Liege, Belgium, where they are based. "For some time we have been looking towards the future of the airline and the possibilities of operating larger aircraft. The Tu-204 adds another market to our operation," says Ladkin.

The airline operates a fleet of eight 15,000kg-payload Lockheed L-188 Electra turboprops. Ladkin says: "The Rolls-Royce-powered Tu-204 on the UK register is a priority for us. The European certification programme is now advanced with [Joint Aviation Authorities] certification anticipated early in 2004."

Ladkin says he is also looking for a freighter with a 5-8t payload, such as the Antonov An-74.

Source: Flight International