TWA is "in discussion" over the possible acquisition of Boeing 757-300s as part of a fleetwide modernisation plan aimed at settling the composition of its narrowbodies for the next 10 years.

The airline is considering the 240-seat twinjet as a replacement for its ageing 767-200 widebodies, which could see it become the first US carrier to specify the stretched model. "We will need to solve the narrowbody challenge in the USA and within the Caribbean and Mexico before we expand the search for new widebodies," comments TWA senior vice-president planning, John Stelzer.

Stelzer, who was speaking at the delivery ceremony of TWA's and Boeing's last MD-80 in Long Beach, says that discussions are under way on the potential use of the -300 in this role, but Stelzer says "we're not anywhere close to an announcement yet".

TWA is a major 757-200 operator, with 25 Pratt & Whitney PW2037-powered examples operating alongside ten 767-200s and six 767-300ERs. "We have one more 757 and two more 767s to be delivered in February," says Stelzer.

The 757-300 was introduced early last year by German charter airline Condor, but the type has so far failed to land any more major sales, with just 17 orders from three customers. Although a PW2000-powered version is technically available, all 757-300 customers have specified the rival Rolls-Royce RB211 powerplant.

In the longer term, TWA is keeping its options open for new long-range widebodies. Stelzer confirms that TWA's original order for 10 A330s is "still on the books" and adds that there are no plans to remove them. He adds, however, that the rival Boeing 777 also figures in long-term studies.

Meanwhile, the first of TWA's 50 firm 717-200s is expected to be handed over to TWA next month. In all, TWA plans to accept 15 717s in 2000, replacing the airline's last 10 727-200s and some McDonnell Douglas DC-9s.

The 717s are primarily intended to replace 727s and DC-9s on shorter routes from its hub in St Louis, and will "almost reach the West Coast", says Stelzer. He adds that "if the promised fuel burn improvements are as good as we expect, we may well be operating them as far as the West Coast".

Source: Flight International