Binter Mediterraneo feels pressure over CASA fleet

 - November 26, 2007, 12:24 PM

Consumer organizations in Melilla, a Spanish enclave on the Mediterranean coast of Morocco, have lobbied for some time to get larger and “more modern” aircraft for flights operated by Binter Mediterraneo between the territory and the Spanish mainland. Several recent accidents of military CN-235s in Turkey have fueled the aversion to the 44-seat turboprops among users dependent on Binter’s link with their homeland.

Since the crash landing of a Binter Mediterraneo CN-235 at Malaga’s Pablo Ruiz Picasso Airport on the Costa del Sol on August 29,  user organizations, supported by the president of the territory of Melilla, have stepped up pressure on the airline to phase out and replace its five CN-235s with larger types. The airplane involved in the accident had touched down 600 feet short of the runway after the captain warned the tower he was attempting an emergency landing due to the loss of power in one engine. The crash took place in fair weather at 10:15 a.m., with the CN-235 loaded to capacity with 44 passengers and three crew. Four died in the crash, among them the captain, and 26 suffered injuries, some of them critical.

Iberia Airlines had recently sold Binter Mediterraneo to Air Nostrum, which maintains a franchise agreement with Iberia and is allowed to fly under the designation of Iberia Regional. Binter Mediterraneo’s network links Melilla and Spanish islands in the Mediterranean with the mainland. The regional airline is an operation distinct from Binter Canarias, an Iberia subsidiary flying in the Canary archipelago.

Air Nostrum operates a fleet of 19 Fokker 50s, five ATR 72s and seven Canadair Regional Jets. Residents of Melilla hope the group will replace Binter’s CN-235 with the slightly larger Fokker 50 and increase the frequency of flights to the territory, enabling its habitants and tourists to travel in the morning and return at night.