By Mary Kirby in Philadelphia

Continental Airlines is in talks with regional aircraft manufacturers to potentially finance an order for new 70-seat turboprops.

A source with knowledge of the discussions says the negotiations are related to Continental’s recent request for proposal (RFP) to regional carriers to operate 24 new 70-seat turboprops, a petition exclusively revealed in May by Flight's 24h aviation news and date service Air Transport Intelligence.

The RFP called for the operation of 12 turboprops from Continental’s Newark hub and an equal amount from the carrier’s Houston hub. Both airports will lose capacity under a new feeder deal between Continental and its regional associate ExpressJet.

Although Continental has not awarded the flying to a regional operator, the carrier is already planning to work with the selected party on financing a turboprop acquisition, says the source. The source adds that the US major is also looking at other scenarios such as contracting aircraft in existing fleets to replace the ExpressJet capacity.

ATR and Bombardier are the only manufacturers of new 70-seat aircraft. The French manufacturer was not immediately available for comment, and Bombardier, like Continental, is not commenting on the RFP.

Source: Flight International