Jens Flottau/MUNICH

German start-up carrier Modern Air is finalising plans to launch a network of regional services from Cologne/Bonn airport next summer with a fleet of up to 20 Fairchild 328JETs .

The airline, headed by a former Lufthansa executive, has signed a letter of intent to fly some or all of its routes on behalf of the German flag-carrier under the Team Lufthansa franchise, industry sources say. Lufthansa confirms that it is holding talks with the start-up over possible co-operation.

Modern Air holds firm commitments for 10 30-seat 328JETs plus 10 options, according to German newsletter Flugpost. The aircraft will be operated on routes to France, Italy and the UK which are too thin to support flights by Lufthansa CityLine.

Modern Air says it is holding talks with other airlines in addition to Lufthansa, as well as potential investors. It hopes to finalise its launch plans by mid-October.

It has already advertised for flight crew that it needs for an April 2000 start-up. The Team Lufthansa franchise currently comprises five airlines - Danish regional Cimber Air, Germany's Augsburg Airways, Stuttgart-based Contact Air, Rheintalflug of Austria and France's Air Littoral. The French carrier is expected to leave the partnership after establishing close ties with Swissair.

Source: Flight International