Turkish prime minister Neemettin Erbakan is discussing a potential order with Airbus and Boeing for up to 50 aircraft worth about $4 billion, for operation by the country's national carrier THY Turkish Airlines.

Bids are being discussed from Airbus and Boeing for aircraft to replace THY's fleet of 14 Airbus A310s, and 30 leased Boeing 737-400s and -500s. The types being evaluated include the Airbus A320 family and A330-200, the next-generation Boeing 737 (-600/700/ 800), and 777. Airbus has confirmed that it is discussing the sale of aircraft in the 737 category.

THY introduced the A310 in the mid-1980s, and now operates a fleet of seven -200s and seven longer-range -300s. The airline's 737 fleet was acquired in 1991-4, with all 30 aircraft (28 -400s and two -500s) on operating lease from GPA/General Electric Capital Aviation Services and International Lease Finance. The airline's long-haul fleet is relatively young, consisting of four Airbus A340-300s, with a fifth on order.

Both Airbus's managing director Jean Pierson and Boeing Commercial's president Ron Woodard are understood to have visited Istanbul recently for meetings with the prime minister. The negotiations for the order include some form of trade off-set, with the production of components locally by Turkish Aerospace Industries being discussed.

Source: Flight International