Mesa Air Group expected three of its Bombardier CRJ200s to enter service with the newly christened KunPeng Airlines by the end of this month. All three airplanes came from Mesa’s U.S. fleet, from which it continues gradually to shed 50-seat jets and de Havilland Dash 8 turboprops in favor of 70- and 86-seat RJs.
Bombardier Dash 8
Bombardier’s once beleaguered Q400 turboprop continued its steady but certain market penetration in the Far East last month when Japan Air Commuter committed to four more of the 78-seat turboprops. Options for another four of the big propjets accompanied the firm order, worth roughly $80 million. The Japanese launch customer for the Q400, JAC took delivery of the first of five aircraft in October 2002.
The cyclical nature of the airline business showed its inevitability again at this year’s Regional Airline Association convention, held May 21 to 24 in Memphis, Tenn. More than 1,500 visitors passed through the turnstiles at the Memphis Convention Center–a record number for an RAA convention.
Frontier Airlines expects to take delivery of its first Bombardier Q400 this month and launch service aboard the 74-seat turboprop with its new Lynx Aviation subsidiary on September 5. Early last month the company waited for a waiver approval from the DOT to begin “advertising, accepting payments and selling” tickets on June 14 for its first four markets, all of which it plans to serve from Denver.
In one of his first appearances as new chief executive of ATR, a somewhat hesitant Stéphane Mayer announced new orders from Berjana Airlines of Malaysia (for four ATR 72-500s) and from Total Linhas Aereas of Brazil for three ATR 42-500s, two 72-500s and five options.
Avions de Transport Régional (ATR) is sharing in the booming regional market and the upswing in orders for short-haul turboprop aircraft, with this year already proving fruitful after two record years.
Bombardier has assembly plants in Wichita, Toronto and Montreal and manufacturing plants in Montreal, Belfast in the UK, and Querétaro in Mexico. But Pierre Beaudoin, Bombardier president and chief operating officer, dismisses the notion that manufacturing in high-cost economies is an anachronism.
Bombardier Aerospace is responding to demand for bigger regional jets with its 100-seat CRJ1000 and continues to mull a 90-seat stretch of its Q400 turboprop. Regional airlines are thriving, but constant pressure on operating costs means their equipment is getting steadily bigger, the company’s top executives agreed at a pre-show briefing in Belfast last month.
Current and future airplane use, fleet complexity and increased competition all will influence decisions about new aircraft by short-haul airlines, according to Jurgen Hild, head of regional partner management at German flag carrier Lufthansa.
This year’s RAA Convention couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time and place for Memphis, Tenn.’s hometown airline. The proud new owner of a second operating subsidiary and revamped service contract with Northwest Airlines, Pinnacle Airlines has officially shed the manacles of a highly restrictive code-share deal and joined the open market for regional services.