Saab cools on return to civil aircraft manufacture

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Saab has played down any interest in returning to commercial aircraft manufacturing, insisting that while it has studied related areas of the market it is not intending a re-entry.

The Swedish company still plans to divest its leasing portfolio of Saab 340 and 2000 turboprops by about 2015.

Saab says there are still about 450 of its turboprops in the market and this is "one of the main reasons" it undertook a study into turboprop sub-suppliers, "to gain knowledge of the market".

The company says it wanted to examine which clients and customers "might be interested", given that the company continues to be a supplier to the sector, but that this interest has been "escalated" and taken "out of context" externally, and is not an indicator of plans to return to manufacturing. "Saab is not aiming to go back into producing commercial aircraft," it insists.

Bombardier's focus on the CSeries twinjet has left ATR as the primary producer of turboprops to the airline sector. Saab ceased production of regional aircraft in 1997.

The former civil airframer, which operates subsidiary Saab Aircraft Leasing, says it still intends to sell all the Saab 340 and 2000 turboprops it owns to concentrate on its core business. By the end of 2011, its leasing portfolio comprised 82 aircraft, of which 42 were financed through US leverage leases and 40 were financed internally. But several aircraft were in the process of being divested during the first half of this year - to buyers including US operator Silver Airways and Finland's Alandia Air - which the company said would leave a managed fleet of 67.