BAE Systems is predicting a fourfold increase in the number of BAe 146/Avro RJs operating in the Gulf region within the next six months.

Andy Whelan, sales executive for BAE Systems Regional Aircraft, says: "Until recently, there were four BAe 146/Avro RJs operating in the region - two RJ85s with the Bahrain defence force, a VIP-configured RJ85 and RJ70 with luxury charter operator Royal Jet and the Amiri Royal Flight of Abu Dhabi, respectively - but new business won by BAE Systems together with other transactions by third parties means that up to 15 aircraft will be operational by [the middle of] next year."


New owners include Palm Aviation of Abu Dhabi, which has acquired the seven BAe 146-300s previously operated by China Northwest Airlines. Delivery of the first aircraft, which is understood to be VIP configured, is earmarked for delivery at the end of next year.


BAE has also sold a VVIP Avro RJ100 to an undisclosed customer for delivery in January 2008, while the Dubai Air Wing has acquired three RJ85s, previously operated by Mesaba Airlines in the USA.


The aircraft are scheduled for delivery in the second quarter of next year and will deployed in a variety of roles including VVIP transport, says Whelan.