Max Kingsley-Jones/LONDON

MANX AIRLINES is about to finalise its decision for a fleet of 50-seat regional aircraft, with the Embraer EMB-145 the leading contender for the order. It is understood that the airline could acquire up to eight aircraft, with deliveries starting in time for the 1997 summer season.

The airline has been evaluating the Brazilian aircraft, along with the similarly sized Canadair Regional Jet and the Saab 2000 high-speed turboprop. Manx managing director Terry Liddiard was a guest at the EMB-145 roll-out/flight ceremony in August 1995, and the airline hinted later that the EMB-145 was in the frame for the order (Flight International, 22-28 November, 1995). Senior Manx managers have flown in the EMB-145, and expressed their appreciation of it.

The Isle of Man-based carrier has a British Aerospace-built fleet of ATPs, Jetstream J31s, J41s and BAe 146-200s. A large proportion of the fleet operates with the Manx Airlines (Europe) division, which flies as British Airways Express. The new aircraft would supplement the existing fleet on its services within the UK and overseas, filling the gap between the 29-seat J41 and 64-seat ATP.

The Saab 2000 is thought to still be in the running, however. Manx's Airlines of Britain Group, sister company Business Air, has operated the Saab 340 for several years, while Deutsche BA, an associate through the BA franchise, is an existing Saab 2000 customer.

Meanwhile, Embraer's European launch customer, Regional Airlines of France, has recently exercised its five options for the EMB-145, bringing its firm orders to ten aircraft.

Source: Flight International