Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

BRITISH AEROSPACE says that its aggressive drive to limit losses from the group's extensive turboprop leasebook is beginning to produce results, with a series of new deals including the first sales of Jetstream J31s.

BAe Asset Management Turboprops (AMT) announced plans to step up its sales efforts earlier this year after being incorporated within a new BAe asset management division (Flight International, 7 February P16). The aim was to reproduce the success of BAe's regional-jet leasing group within turboprops.

AMT announces that, over the past few months, it has concluded sales and lease deals involving some 17 Jetstreams and ATPs. Sales include two J31s to the Calgary-based business shuttle operator Corpac for delivery at year end and a J31 to Louisiana-based start-up Casino Air, which has an option to buy two additional aircraft.

Steve O'Sullivan, BAe AMT's executive vice-president says that these successes come as a direct result of the sales push initiated earlier this year, which included direct telephone-marketing to business turboprop operators.

"We have now started to move J31s off our books, with these 10-14 year-old airliners typically trading for around $600,000 to $800,000, or slightly more if they are in a corporate configuration. I expect at least eight to ten J31s to have been sold by the end of the year," he says.

The new leasing deals include a second J32 for Highland Air of Sweden, and a fourth J32 for Finland's Air Botnia. AMT announces a second J31 with Birmingham, UK-based Community Express Airlines, and a J41 with Maersk Air (the UK-based division).

British Airways has also signed a two-year lease extension agreement for ten of its 14 ATPs, with the remaining four to be returned later this year. AMT is also close to a deal with Spanish start-up Canarias Regional Air for the lease of up to eight ATPs.

Although AMT's main focus has been on the North American market, the US-based operation says that it now has 13 customers in Europe operating 70 aircraft from its portfolio.

Meanwhile, the BAe board has approved the first two phases of a performance improvement package for the J32. The programme will provide better short and/or hot-and-high performance and is expected to be available from mid-1997.

AMT is awaiting approval from the US Federal Aviation Administration for a 214kg increase in the J31's take-off weight, following UK Civil Aviation Authority clearance for a 109kg increase. These improvements will "-ensure that the aircraft's capabilities are on a par with its main competitors", says O'Sullivan.

AMT's portfolio totals some 428 aircraft, the majority of which are BAe products, although it does still include a few others such as the Fairchild Metro. "We are trying to concentrate on our home products," says O'Sullivan, "and are gradually disposing of the Metros."

Source: Flight International