Augsburg Airways, which recently became the first "Team Lufthansa" franchise partner, is considering further fleet expansion with the de Havilland Dash 8-400.

While no firm purchase decision has been taken, the southern Germany-based regional airline says that its partnership with Lufthansa opens the possibility of future operations on medium-haul routes to northern Germany, which would be economical for the 70-seat -400. The type's 350kt (650km/h) cruising speed makes it "very attractive", says the airline.

The airline now operates four 37-seat Dash 8-100s and three 50-seat Dash 8-300s. By the third quarter of this year, Augsburg will take delivery of a fourth -300, which will be based in Munich. Augsburg began its partnership with Lufthansa at the end of October, flying from Munich to Erfurt, Dortmund and Leipzig.

The airline sold its last Beech 1900 to an air-ambulance operator in Kenya in December.

As part of its co-operation with Lufthansa, Augsburg has now opened a new four-times-daily frequency from Augsburg to Frankfurt from 13 January, which will be flown by a Dash 8-100.

Augsburg Airways has suffered years of losses, the size of which it declines to reveal, and says that this is one reason for expanding its fleet. "If you have a fleet of five aircraft, then basically the overhead costs are killing you," it says.

Lufthansa is about to enter into a second franchise partnership, with Danish regional carrier Cimber Air, based in Sonderborg.

The airline will operate one aircraft from its fleet of AI(R) ATR 42-300 turboprops, in Team Lufthansa colours, on a four-times-daily route from Dortmund to Berlin, starting on 20 January. The Danish airline has already been co-operating with Lufthansa and Lufthansa CityLine for many years, says the German airline.

Source: Flight International