Garuda Indonesia is considering acquiring BAe 146s to support the expansion of regional services from airports with short runways, writes Brendan Sobie.

Industry sources say the carrier is conducting a feasibility study on the 146 and would initially operate the aircraft from Bandung, which has limited services despite being Indonesia's third largest city.

The 146's short field performance would enable Garuda to launch services from Bandung to Singapore and other short-runway airports. It is keen to serve Bandung, 175km (95nm) from Jakarta, because of its large business community.

Regional jets would also help Garuda fill some of the gap left by retiring Fokker F28s, being phased out this year in favour of Boeing 737-300s. Some F28 routes, operated by Garuda subsidiary Citylink, cannot support 737s.

Garuda has not included any other aircraft type in its feasibility study because the Bombardier CRJ, Dash 8 and the Embraer ERJ do not have the short-field performance it requires. Garuda is also not currently looking at turboprops.

Bombardier is instead focusing more on a Q400 campaign at state-owned domestic carrier Merpati, although financing issues must be overcome. BAE is also trying to lease 146s to Pelita Air Service, which already operates one Avro RJ85 (a newer-generation 146 variant).

Source: Flight International