TAM's plans to retire half its Fokker 100 fleet in the coming months is a further blow to the already embattled 100-seat twinjet. It follows the grounding of US Airways' entire fleet of 40 Fokker 100s earlier this year, and news last month that American Airlines is accelerating the retirement of its 74-strong fleet. American's aircraft, some of which are just eight years old, will leave the fleet over two years from the third quarter of 2003.

According to the Airclaims CASE database, around 60 of the 275 Fokker 100s in existence are idle - over 20% of the fleet. Unless aircraft are placed quickly, this tally looks set to balloon to at least 80 aircraft.

UK appraisers Airclaims and IBA say that Fokker 100 market values had already been hit severely as a result of the US terrorist attacks, and the recent developments have had further impact. Current market values have already tumbled by 25-50% depending on age and specification.

Dutch aerospace group Stork, which owns the type's support arm Fokker Services, has already warned that the fleet reductions could mean that the valuation of stocks will need to be reviewed.

"Market values have already been impacted by the US Airways stand down, with future values impacted by the American Airlines announcement. TAM's third punch landed after the first two had already knocked the Fokker 100 out," says Airclaims' director of consultancy Edward Pieniazek. "The latest development makes little immediate difference, other than to further delay the prospects for recovery," he adds.

"We will be taking another hard look at the current and future values in light of recent events," says IBA's head of special projects Russell Hubbard.

Both appraisers think that the declines in value could open up possibilities for the type into new markets such as Asia, the CIS and Eastern Europe.

Source: Flight International