Malaysia Airlines (MAS) has ruled out acquiring regional jets, leaving the ATR 72 and Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 in the long-delayed competition to replace its fleet of 10 Fokker 50s.

MAS received bids early this year from Bombardier and Embraer for 12 regional jets and from ATR and Bombardier for 10 turboprops. A selection has been delayed until at least early 2006, but industry sources say MAS has already excluded regional jets from the contest after concluding the routes the Fokker 50s now fly are too short and have too low yields to support jets. MAS is expected to decide on its new regional aircraft in the first quarter of next year.

ATR chief executive Filippo Bagnato said at Malaysia’s Langkawi air show that ATR had offered to open a new logistics support centre in Malaysia and set up a local maintenance capability if it wins the MAS deal. ATR has a 15-employee logistics and sales operation in Singapore, known as ATR Eastern Support, which will be closed if MAS acquires ATR 72s.

“If we win in Malaysia, I’d transfer the centre in Singapore to Kuala Lumpur,” he said.

Source: Flight International