SAL remains positive about eliminating its Saab 340Bplus inventory

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Saab Aircraft Leasing (SAL) is confident it will place all of its Saab 340Bplus inventory after the leasing company closed 14 turboprop transactions during the first four months of this year.

"This year is going to be great for us as we will place all the remaining Mesaba aircraft," SAL's president Michael Magnusson tells Flightglobal.

SAL inherited a total of 49 Saab 340Bplus from Mesaba Airlines but during the January-April period, it placed three additional aircraft on lease to Thailand's Siam General Aviation Company, which operates under the "nok mini" brand.

Another three aircraft were leased with Penair, which will start a new essential air service operation out of Boston. With its new Saab 340Bplus, Penair will fly to Presque Isle, Bar Harbor and Plattsburgh, replacing Colgan Air's services.

SAL also leased two Saab 340Bplus to an Australian regional carrier.

The leasing company also sold six additional aircraft to Florida-based regional carrier Silver Air, which will operate 12 Saab 340Bplus by the end of the summer.

"The market is quite strong for Saab 340Bplus aircraft in the USA and Canada," comments Magnusson.

He cites high oil prices favouring turboprops and the fact that no new turboprops are being produced in the 30/40-seat range.

The recent Pinnacle bankruptcy will see another eight aircraft of the type being returned to SAL but Magnusson is confident they will find homes rapidly. "Few turboprops are advertised and out 340Bplus are 1997/98-vintage, equipped with the latest generation cabin, noise systems and overhead bins."

Lease rates are in the mid-$30,000 a month range and could edge up further up as the SAL inventory reduce. "Once we have placed all the Mesaba and Pinnacle aircraft, it will be interesting to see how the market behaves," he said.