Royal Brunei mulls short-haul fleet renewal options

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Royal Brunei Airlines has held discussions with four airframers regarding the future of its short-haul fleet.

Boeing, Airbus, Bombardier and Embraer all made presentations to the carrier in Bandar Seri Begawan this week, Dermot Mannion deputy chairman Royal Brunei Airlines said in an interview with Flightglobal.

Mannion says the carrier will make a decision in the coming months.

Royal Brunei leases four A320 and two A319 aircraft from CIT Aerospace. The leases for all six expire in 2015.

Following Royal Brunei's restructuring in 2011-12, it is focusing primarily on short-haul routes. Given this focus, Mannion says the carrier is likely to require 10 short-haul aircraft.

As with its current short-haul fleet, the carrier is likely to lease the aircraft as opposed to outrightly owning them.

Flightglobal's Ascend database shows that Royal Brunei's two A319s seat 122 passengers and three of its A320s seat 144, while its remaining A320 seats 180.

Mannion adds that one challenge is that Royal Brunei's short-haul fleet serves both very large and very small markets. A larger aircraft such as an A320 is optimal for destinations such as Shanghai and Hong Kong, but markets such as Surabaya and Jakarta would be more effectively served by a smaller aircraft.

"It's not possible for an airline of our size to have a mixed fleet on short-haul," says Mannion. "We've got to find the best aircraft in terms of passenger flow."