British Airways has taken a step closer to establishing its new jet fleet at Manchester by formally inviting proposals from aircraft and engine manufacturers to supply replacement jets worth up to £600 million.
The initial requirement is for up to 30 jets for British Airways Regional, the British Airways subsidiary which operates Domestic and European flights from twin hubs at Manchester and Birmingham airports. The first aircraft would be delivered in September, 1999.
The new jets will replace turboprop operations and the older Boeing 737-200s, and will ensure full compliance with the EU noise regulations, which take effect from 2002.
Inviting proposals from Boeing and Airbus Industrie to supply the British Airways Regional jets, orders could follow for a further 70 aircraft to replace the fleets of British Airways` short haul operations, over the next 10 years, at Air Liberte, Deutsche BA and Euro Gatwick.
David Evans, managing director of British Airways Regional, said: “Today’s announcement reinforces our commitment to regional services, the customers that fly these routes and our employees whose livelihoods rely on these operations. It also honours our commitment to the communities most effected by these operations to find the quietest aircraft available.
“The challenge given to Airbus and Boeing is to identify one aircraft family that will match our needs and those of the individual British Airways’ short haul subsidiaries. I know it is one they will relish.”
British Airways Regional is seeking a single type jet fleet, - capable of carrying between 110 and 150 passengers - which will allow the airline to develop new markets and schedules, more in tune with customer demand than current airport noise restrictions allow. The new aircraft will be an important upgrade for customers and bring greater inflight comfort and space.
The aircraft tender will close on March 16. Official orders could be placed this summer with fleet delivery starting September 1999.