Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

Two European airlines, Business Air and CityJet, are in negotiations to acquire secondhand Saab 2000s from Regional Airlines, the second-largest operator of the type, which is preparing to standardise on the Embraer RJ145 regional jet.

Regional has a fleet of 11 Saab 2000s, including six delivered new to the airline alongside five transferred from Deutsche BA during 1997. The airline is intending to dispose of the Saabs, which are leased from various sources, including the manufacturer, as it adds more RJ145s.

Business Air, a member of the Manx-led British Regional Airlines (BRAL) group, is already a major Saab operator with some 11 340s in service. Three are operated on Business Air's own routes, while six are flown on British Midland (BM) services (plus one additional back-up aircraft), and the eleventh is flown on BRAL's British Airways franchise contract.

"We are currently undertaking a detailed evaluation of the Saab 2000, which we hope to complete in time for a decision in mid-February," says Business Air managing director Ian Woodley, who adds that deliveries would be wanted in time for the 1998 winter schedule, or perhaps earlier.

The Regional 2000s "and others" are being considered, says Woodley, with an initial requirement for three aircraft.

He adds that the airline is talking directly to Saab, which would enable some of the Saab 340s to be returned as part of the deal, should it wish. Woodley says that the 2000s would be used on international and domestic routes "for BM and ourselves".

CityJet, based in Dublin, Ireland, is believed to be negotiating for two Saab 2000s to add to its fleet of five British Aerospace 146s. The airline will neither confirm nor deny the plans, saying that it expects to be in a position to make an announcement in the "next couple of weeks".

CityJet operates from Dublin to London City and Paris, and between London City and Paris on behalf of Air France.

It is likely that the 2000s would supplement the 146s, enabling the airline to boost frequencies and add new destinations. Swedish airline Malmö Aviation recently sold its 43% share in the carrier to private Irish investors.

Source: Flight International