Turboprop and regional jet manufacturers are stepping up their marketing efforts in India as the country's carriers show more interest in operating smaller aircraft.

The government has for years been calling on airlines to boost services to remote areas, but until now the pleas have been ignored.

Jet Airways, the largest private airline in India, has since 1999 been operating ATR 72s in addition to its Boeing 737s, and has eight of the type. In July 2002 it signed a letter of intent to purchase 10 Embraer 175s and take 10 options, for delivery from next year. Embraer says "a final agreement is expected to be ready soon".

Rival 737 operator Air Sahara, meanwhile, is preparing to take delivery of the first regional jets that will be flying in India. The airline says it expects Bombardier CRJ200s to be put into service this month. Sahara has leased three ex-Midway Airlines CRJs through Bombardier to operate alongside the carrier's 11 737s on new and existing routes.

Indian Airlines subsidiary Alliance Air has just started operating ATR 42s in the northeast of the country. It signed a lease agreement with ATR in December for four aircraft after years of delays.

Privately held Indian air charter company Deccan Aviation is, meanwhile, pressing ahead with plans to move into scheduled operations using Bombardier Dash 8-100s.

Managing director Capt G R Gopinath says Deccan won approval from the country's aircraft acquisition committee last month to operate Dash 8s and services will begin in May or June.

Source: Flight International