Andrew Doyle/MUNICH Paul Phelan/CAIRNS

Impulse Airlines is close to reaching a deal with Bavaria Leasing to take delivery of a pair of Boeing 717-200s as part of the Australian carrier's plans to launch interstate jet services.

The Newcastle, New South Wales-based airline is expected to announce within the next few weeks that it will begin 717 operations by April, well ahead of Virgin Group's intended assault on the Australian domestic market.

Impulse has six pilots and 25 engineers training on the Boeing twinjet in the USA and is expected to introduce up to 10 of the type, some of which industry sources say would be fitted with long-range tanks for transcontinental operations to Perth in Western Australia.

The airline is in advanced negotiations with Munich-based Bavaria over a deal to take the German leasing company's third and fourth 717s, which are undergoing final completion work at Boeing's Long Beach factory. Bavaria declines to comment on possible customers for the available 717s.

Along with the Bavaria aircraft, sources say Impulse is likely to acquire around half of its planned fleet directly from the manufacturer, while the balance could come from Irish lessor Pembroke Capital, with the expansion believed to be funded by Hong Kong-based banking institutions.

Impulse has already secured terminal space at the key airports of Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane, and has a large call centre in Newcastle from which it would operate its reservation system. It is yet to officially reveal fleet and route details, however, saying that because it has reservations handling and other agreements with Ansett Australia it has to be wary about the timing of any announcement.

The airline, founded by former TNT executive Gerry McGowan, operates feeder and hub-bypass services with Raytheon Beech 1900Ds. It plans to launch jet operations after the termination of commercial agreements with Ansett to take advantage of the deregulation of passenger air services in New South Wales, due in April.

Source: Flight International