Continental Keen on Saab 2000s

 - October 16, 2006, 8:28 AM

SkyWest Airlines parted ways with Continental Airlines earlier this year in large part because the Houston-based major airline wanted its regional partner to fly 50-seat Saab 2000s, SkyWest CEO Jerry Atkin told AIN during last month’s RAA convention in Cincinnati. Unwilling to fly the Swedish turboprops, SkyWest ceded its Houston feeder service, performed with 29-seat Embraer Brasilias, to Colgan Air, which so far has placed half of a planned fleet of 10 Saab 340Bs at the southeast Texas hub.

Now, Continental has begun shopping for another partner to fly the 50-seat turboprops from Houston. Also attending the convention, Cape Air CEO Dan Wolf acknowledged that Continental has approached his airline to perform the service. Already flying three ATR 42s from Guam, Cape Air would prefer to fly ATR 72s, however.

Another option for Continental could involve Billings, Mont.-based Big Sky Airlines. Paul Foley, CEO of Big Sky’s parent company, Mesaba Aviation, said he’d like to add “larger scale turboprops” to the subsidiary’s Beech 1900 fleet for a new code-share partnership outside the company’s Northwest Airlink network. He would not elaborate on the type of airplane or identify the potential partner.