The Melbourne Age newspapertoday ran a large article regarding Ansett's proposed fleet upgrade which has been delayed a number of times pending Ansett sorting out their business case. With Ansett now having access to Singapore's funds it looks like it on the go again
It seems Ansett is expected to commit to buy 35 Airbus aircraft, valued at $2.4 billion, before Christmas in a rationalisation of its ageing and mixed aircraft fleet.
With the pending Singapore Airlines buy of News Ltd's 50 per cent stake in Ansett moving rapidly towards completion, Ansett, which is the 2nd biggest airline in Australia after Qantas is keen to run with a single-family model for most of its routes. The savings in crew training and maintenace would be huge.
According to industry analysts in London, the Ansett order will be based on Airbus A320 family. Ansett already operates 19 A320's.
It is rumoured Ansett will buy 10 A321s to replace its 10 Boeing 767s and up to 25 of the smaller A318 and A319s to replace the airline's 22 737-300s and some BAe146s. The airline will take delivery of the A321 starting in 2001 and the other models from 2002. Ansett disposed of its last 727 in 1997. Its regional subsidiary Kendall has an outstanding order for 12 Canadair Regional Jets, the first of the type in Australia.
THe order could be delayed if Air New Zealand, Ansett's 50% owner exercise its right and block SIA's purchase of News Limited's 50% but ANZ is now rumoured to be happy to let the deal go through.
Due to production slot shortages, Airbus has told Ansett it will only hold slots for them if they order before Christmas.
Some people see the A320 family giving Ansett a marketing advantage over Qantas's competing 737s citing US studies showing people like the A320's extra width and larger overhead lockers. Whilst the 737NG has redressed some of these issues, it is so different from Ansett's 737-300's it would be like Ansett getting another new type and not offer the same savings.
Ansett is Airbus' only client in Australia with Qantas and Air New Zealand both operating all Boeing fleets except for some BAe146's in Qantas' regional fleet. Qantas sold its last 4 A300's this year.