American’s regional arm revives parked fleet to fill gap

American Eagle Airlines is reviving a large part of its parked Saab 340B fleet to replace 25 340B Plus aircraft that it is returning over the next two years to Saab Aircraft Leasing for onward lease to Australian regional carrier Rex.

Sources close to the US regional say between 30 and 35 of the roughly 45 340Bs still owned by American Eagle will be returned to service by 2008 under the programme. Up to 10 of the 30-seat 340B turboprops have already been reintroduced to its fleet.

The US carrier has just returned its first 340B Plus to Saab Aircraft Leasing, says one source. As with the first aircraft, American Eagle’s remaining 24 340B Pluses will be returned as their leases expire.

American Eagle confirms that the airline is returning its 25 340B Pluses to Saab, but will not comment on the plan to revive its parked fleet. The carrier’s pilot union, the Air Line Pilots Association, declines to comment on the fleet plans.

Saab last week revealed that Rex has leased American Eagle’s 25 340B Pluses. Rex will take delivery of the first aircraft by the end of the year, and will have the entire 25 aircraft by mid-2009.

Rex’s aircraft will undergo a month-long overhaul and retrofit (including a new flight management system), and will be delivered in six-week intervals. The Australian carrier is leasing the 340B Plus fleet on six- and seven-year terms.

Source: Flight International