Andrew Doyle/BASLE

Crossair is negotiating an order for up to 30 single-aisled aircraft with Airbus and Boeing and expects to present a recommendation to its board for approval on 23 August.

In the meantime, the Swiss regional has signed a letter of intent with General Electric Capital Aviation Training (GECAT) to set up a flight simulator joint venture in Basle.

The aircraft deal is likely to comprise 15 firm orders and 15 options for a mix of 737-700/800s or A320 family aircraft to replace the carrier's 12-strong MD-80 fleet, with deliveries beginning in mid-2002.

Crossair executive vice-president marketing Richard Heideker says the airline's core requirement is for around 10 A320s or 737-800s for use on charter routes, plus a handful of smaller A319s or 737-700s for scheduled services.

SAirGroup carriers Swissair, parent of Crossair, and Sabena, are standardising on Airbus short-haul fleets, but Heideker says the competition is "completely open" and the winner will be the manufacturer that proposes the best commercial terms. As part of its evaluation, Crossair is studying the longer-range 737-700IGW, which it believes could be deployed on new, long thin routes from its Basle hub.

The carrier has also asked Airbus and Boeing to supply a couple of A320s or 737-800s on interim lease from next summer, following the decision to transfer most of Swissair's routes from Geneva to Crossair. "We are looking at a bridging solution with both manufacturers," says Heideker.

The as-yet-unnamed 50:50 training joint venture between Crossair and GECAT will take over two simulator bays operated by the airline, and will build a new facility capable of accommodating an additional six devices.

The two companies will invest SFr85 million ($51 million) in the venture during its first five years.

Crossair has a Saab 2000 simulator and has made a SFr15 million order for an Embraer RJ-145 machine with CAE, for delivery in February 2001.

Crossair vice-president training Robert Somers, who will be the joint venture's chief executive, says the Basle facility will become the "preferred training centre for Qualiflyer Group carriers".

Source: Flight International