Brymon Airways has switched allegiance for its new jet fleet, placing an order for up to 21 50-seat Embraer RJ-145s, rather than the rival Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ).

The Plymouth-based UK regional airline, a wholly owned subsidiary of British Airways, has an all-Bombardier fleet of 16 Dash 8-300 turboprops and had been seen as a serious candidate to place orders for the 70-seat Dash 8 Q400 and similarly sized CRJ-700. The airline, which operates all its services under the BA brand, had held options on two each of the Bombardier 70-seaters.

"The 70-seat options have lapsed and we have since identified a new requirement for a 50-seat jet," says Brymon managing director Gareth Kirkwood. The ERJ was selected as Embraer offered better price and delivery schedule package.

Brymon has placed seven firm ERJ-145 orders, and taken options on an additional 14. "The options can be taken up as the smaller ERJ-135 or the larger, 70-seat, ERJ-170," says Kirkwood. Deliveries will begin early next year, with five ERJ-145s being delivered during the year on operating leases, followed by the final two firm orders in early 2001.

Brymon says it will use the aircraft to supplement its Dash 8s on its network from Bristol, but will return at least three older Dash 8s by early 2001 as more ERJs are delivered. The new jets may also take over routes operated by Dash 8s from Manchester.

The ERJs will also be used to create a base at Birmingham, where they will be deployed on flights to Brussels, Edinburgh, Frankfurt and Munich, operated under short term contract by Maersk Air and British Regional Airlines. Birmingham-based Maersk Air's BA franchise expires during 2001, and negotiations are under way for its renewal. Kirkwood says that "he does not know" whether BA is considering using Brymon to replace Maersk at Birmingham if a franchise deal is not hammered out.

Source: Flight International