Andrew Doyle/BASLE

Crossair has selected the Embraer RJ-145 regional jet to replace its Saab 340 turboprops. It aims to complete negotiations with the Brazilian manufacturer in time for a deal to be announced at the Paris air show in June.

The Swiss regional stresses that a final decision on whether to go ahead with the order has not been made, although senior managers at the airline rate the chances of a positive outcome as "high". The order would cover 15 firm commitments plus 25 options, any of which could be converted to the smallerERJ-135, with deliveries from early next year. The optioned aircraft would be taken in the longer term to replace the airline's 35 Saab 2000 turboprops.

Crossair has also increased its requirement for a new family of 70/90-seat regional jets to 160 aircraft - 60 firm orders plus 100 options - to allow delivery positions to be made available to other Qualiflyer Group carriers. It remains on course to choose between the Fairchild Aerospace 728JET family and the Embraer RJ-170/190, also by June.

The airline wants to phase out its Saab 340s because they fly too slowly to fit into the system of four daily "waves" of flights to and from its Basle hub. Crossair also wants to find a buyer for the aircraft before an expected glut of Saab 340s arrives on the market as US regionals re-equip with jets.

Crossair chief executive Moritz Suter says the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet (CRJ)has been rejected for both the 50- and 70-seat requirements. "Bombardier has not been included in our plans for a long time because the CRJ and CRJ Series 700 cannot take off from short strips," he says, adding that the latter has "a rather narrow cabin for a 70-seat aircraft".

The 90/110-seat Bombardier BRJ-X has been ruled out because it will not be available in time to meet Crossair's mid-2002 first delivery target for the larger aircraft types.

Some of the 100 options for 70/90-seat aircraft are expected to be allocated to airlines such as Air Littoral of France and Austria's Tyrolean, plus Belgian flag carrier Sabena, which has a longer-term requirement to replace the British Aerospace Avro RJs operated by its regional subsidiary, DAT.

Source: Flight International