Air Nostrum is in talks with franchise partner Iberia on the potential need for larger aircraft. The talks follow the signing of a contract by the Spanish regional with Bombardier for 20 firm and 20 option 50-seat CRJ200s that gives the airline flexibility to switch deliveries to the 70-seat CRJ700, 86-seat CRJ900 or even the 74/78-seat Dash 8 Q400 turboprop.

The Valencia-based regional will take delivery of the last of 31 CRJ200s from an earlier order in January next year. It also operates 19 Q300 50-seat turboprops. The additional 20 firmly ordered CRJs will be delivered between 2005 and 2007. Speaking at the order announcement in London, Bombardier Regional Aircraft president Steve Ridolfi said Air Nostrum can convert its 50-seat CRJ orders and options to another aircraft type with 15-18 months notice.

General manager Miguel Falcon says Air Nostrum expects to continue growing at its current rate of six aircraft a year. "There is still room to grow in the Spanish market," he says. Six new regional airports will open in Spain between 2005 and 2008. In addition, the carrier plans to use additional slots that will become available between 2005 and 2007 at Barcelona and Madrid airports, where it is already the second largest slot-holder after Iberia.

Source: Flight International