It seems hard to reconcile the rather dark and anxious tone of this year’s Regional Airline Association convention with double-digit margins and record revenues. Listening to airline delegates speak at this year’s get-together, one got the distinct impression they knew something the rest of us didn’t. In fact, regional airlines have been waiting for the day the gravy train of guaranteed RJ profits derailed.
UK Corporate Jet Services, parent company of Southampton-based executive charter operator Club328, has purchased bankrupt regional aircraft manufacturer AvCraft Aerospace. The new owner will not be resuming aircraft production, but will instead run the former property of U.S. support and completions firm AvCraft Aviation as a support organization for existing Dornier 328 operators under the name 328 Support Services.
Canadian manufacturer Bombardier has the considerable task of supporting some 5,200 aircraft of many types, from vintage Series 20 Learjets to the latest Global Expresses, plus regional airliners and amphibian bombers. This involves more than 120,000 different spare parts that must be shipped on short notice to service centers around the world.
Slower-than-anticipated growth of regional air transport markets in Asia has apparently reached the consciousness of market prognosticators at Embraer, whose latest 20-year forecast for deliveries of small commercial jets reflects a less optimistic outlook for both China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region.
Delta Air Lines looked to become the latest U.S. carrier to stretch its scope-clause limits when Air Line Pilots Association leadership agreed to allow regional jets certified to carry between 71 and 76 seats to fly under the Delta Connection brand starting next year.
Bombardier Aerospace’s performance improved in FY2006, primarily the result of a continued strong business jet market. According to financial results for the fiscal year ending January 31, the regional aircraft market presented “significant challenges,” but the business jet market remained strong with a “45-percent boost in deliveries.
BAE Systems Regional Aircraft plans to work with ATP operators, maintenance organizations and equipment vendors to reduce the turboprop’s ownership costs by some 20 percent. Using the Franco-Italian ATR-42/72 as its cost benchmark, the UK manufacturer is accelerating negotiations with maintenance, repair and overhaul (MRO) companies, and hopes to build upon individual customer/ MRO arrangements.