Saab Aircraft Leasing completed 28 transactions last year and by December, for the first time ever, it had placed all 137 of the 340A, 340B and 2000 models on its books.
Following the signing of a contract by the Kingdom of Thailand for six fighters, Saab is celebrating the capture of its first Gripen customer in the region. The deal also covers the supply of two Saab 340 twin-turboprop airliners, one configured with the Saab Microwave Systems Erieye radar for airborne early warning. Thailand plans to use the other for training and transport.
Some international partners in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program could delay signing up for production airplanes until 2013. George Standridge, Lockheed Martin F-35 vice president for business development, said that funding of long-lead items would be required 36 months before first flight, with a larger down-payment due 12 months later.
The board of Swiss International Air Lines on February 24 accepted management’s proposal to reduce its current fleet from 131 to 111 aircraft, furlough up to 700 employees and reduce routes. The airline grounded one Airbus A321, two MD-83s and 17 regional aircraft on March 30, which also marked the beginning of the summer timetable.
Eurofighter has withdrawn the Typhoon from competitions for a new combat aircraft to replace F-16s in Denmark and Norway. Both countries are partners in the U.S.-led Lightning (Joint Strike Fighter) program but are considering alternatives before committing to production F-35s.
Vee Neal Aviation will expand its charter and management business into corporate shuttle operations using a leased Saab 340A. The Latrobe, Pa. company is the first Part 135 operator to order the 30-passenger twin turboprop for corporate transportation, according to Saab Aircraft Leasing in Washington. A Saab official said the aircraft should be delivered to Vee Neal by mid-month.
The choice of a multi-role fighter aircraft for the Polish air force could result in the launch of a “private jet” in Poland, depending on the offset proposals of the winning bidder. In competition are Lockheed Martin (F-16), SAAB-British Aerospace (Gripen) and Dassault Aviation (Mirage 2000). The contract is expected to be signed in the first quarter of this year and the offset agreements are required to be signed within 60 days after that.
Swiss International Air Lines last month announced another restructuring program that will shrink its regional fleet by at least 13 aircraft and its staffing by 800 to 1,000 positions over the next 18 months.
To ensure a supply of feeder traffic into its Zurich hub, Swiss plans to extend its code-share agreements with regional airlines, as it has done with Cirrus Airlines on its Lugano-Zurich link.
For business jets operating in potentially hostile areas, Sweden’s Saab might soon offer some protection. The company’s Avitronics division is hoping to receive EASA certification within the next eight months for its Civil Aircraft Missile Protection System (Camps). The company claims the defense system–based on countermeasures already in use on military aircraft–is the only such European system for civil aircraft.
Switzerland’s Crossair has frozen all hiring for an undetermined period, redoubled efforts to attract more business passengers, reduced frequencies on a number of marginal routes and moved smaller airplanes to others as the regional airline attempts to reverse one of the most difficult financial periods in its illustrious history.