Timor Air to resume services by September with three Boeing 717s

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Timor Leste carrier Timor Air has suspended turboprop operations and plans to resume services by September with three Boeing 717 aircraft.

The carrier has inked a memorandum of understanding with an undisclosed carrier to work together on its new jet operations.

"We're going to work together in a joint venture partnership. They will provide the aircraft and crew and we'll provide facilities, finance and recruitment," says the carrier's chairman and founder Jerry Desousa.

The partner airline will provide three Boeing 717s, all of which are on lease. The aircraft will have 124 seats configured in two classes, with 12 seats in business class.

The carrier has also appointed James Stewart Kim, managing director of aviation consultancy AvCon Worldwide Ltd, as its new chief executive.

Timor Air, meanwhile, will return its two Saab 340 turboprops to their lessors.

The carrier, which first started operations in July last year, stopped its daily Dili-Darwin services last week.

"We're stopping operations while working to put together jets for our fleet. We don't want turboprops anymore. We're stopping because we can't do two things at once. Once the jets come on service, we'll fly again," says Desousa.

The carrier is ditching the turboprops because of their limited capacity and weight restrictions, he adds.

Once it resumes operations, it will start with daily services from Dili to Darwin and Bali, followed by services to Singapore and Perth four times a week.

On expansion plans, Desousa says: "Three aircraft is enough for a start and at this point we're only looking at these four destinations. We'll see how we can grow when we get there."

Timor Air has had several false starts over the years.

It was planning to launch operations with a Boeing 737-200 leased from OzJet in 2008, but instead decided to lease an aircraft from SkyAirWorld. That carrier, however, collapsed in 2009 prior to its launch. In 2010, Timor Air also announced plans to launch operations using a Bombardier Dash 8, but this never occurred.