KLM exel is in discussions with regional aircraft manufacturers about a deal to replace its turboprop fleet with regional jets.

The Dutch airline was renamed KLM exel in early 1998 as part of the Dutch flag carrier's rebranding of its regional partners. A fleet of three ATR 42-300s and four Embraer EMB-120 Brasilias is operated on services from Maastricht and Eindhoven for KLM. The Embraer ERJ-135/145, Fairchild Dornier 328/428JET and Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet are all being studied.

"With Schiphol becoming increasingly congested, we think we may have to consider hub-bypassing on some of the longer stage lengths," says company director Robert Gibbs.

"Turboprops may not be the right answer then, and we may therefore switch to regional jets," he adds. Gibbs says that timing for the switch has not been finalised, but is planned within two years, although he warns that this may slip to 2001.

Source: Flight International