South Korean start-up Jeju Air plans to select an aircraft type in late April or early May as it prepares for a March 2006 launch.

The carrier was given a demonstration of a Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 on Jeju Island last week, but it is also evaluating the ATR 72, Bombardier CRJ700/900, Embraer 175/190 and second-hand Boeing 737s. Industry sources say the airline will initially lease five aircraft to operate on routes linking Jeju with several destinations in South Korea and Japan.

The Q400 has been considered the favourite since it was demonstrated on Jeju in 2002. The aircraft was flown back to the island last week, so it could take part in a ceremony marking the opening of Jeju Air's headquarters.

The airline opened an office in Seoul in January. The Jeju provincial government first established the airline several years ago to boost tourism in the resort island off South Korea's southern coast.

A 75% stake in the airline was sold to Korean conglomerate Aekyung Group in January.

Source: Flight International