British Airways is to embark on a major investment programme - initially worth between £400 and £600 million - to equip the majority of its regional subsidiaries with new aircraft for the next millennium.
The order demonstrates the airline’s commitment to regional services and will ensure that the airline meets new, stringent noise regulations which come into effect in 2002.
Potentially, the airline is looking for a family of around 100 short haul jets to replace a mixed fleet of seven aircraft types in service with British Airways Regional, Air Liberte, Deutsche BA and EuroGatwick.
Up to 30 aircraft would be delivered to British Airways Regional from September
1999. Orders for more than 70 aircraft to replace the fleets at Air Liberte, Deutsche BA and EuroGatwick could follow.
Bob Ayling, British Airways’ Chief Executive, said: “A new fleet is needed. We will be looking for proposals which will help to drive down operating and maintenance costs, provide better asset utilisation and will allow us to meet new noise regulations.
“Modern aircraft will improve punctuality, give more choice and enhanced standards of in-flight service, including more space to carry on luggage. We would also have the opportunity to serve routes where existing aircraft types and current economics prevent us from operating.”
The airline has invited Airbus Industrie and Boeing to offer proposals.
At the same time, the airline is looking to manufacturers for innovative ways of acquiring such a comprehensive fleet, to meet the ever-changing and competitive needs of the European market.