Northwest Airlines hopes to decide by the end of 1997 on new 50- to 69-seat aircraft to equip its Northwest Airlink subsidiary, Express Airlines I, operating from Memphis, Tennessee.

Aircraft being considered include the Saab 2000 high-speed turboprop, the Bombardier Canadair Regional Jet and Embraer EMB-145 regional jet.

Phil Reed, vice-president of marketing at Express Airlines I, emphasises that Northwest Airlink is "-not compelled to decide" by the end of the year, despite pressure from the regional-jet manufacturers to place an order while early- delivery slots are still available. "We want an aircraft that fits our needs," he says. Saab is still seeking its first US customer for the 2000.

Reed says that Northwest Airlink envisages operating three sizes of aircraft eventually. The carrier operates 30-seat Saab 340s, but is phasing out its 19-seat British Aerospace Jetstream 31s.

Northwest Airlines has ordered 69-seat Aero International (Regional) Avro RJ85 regional jets for its Minneapolis-based Northwest Airlink partner Mesaba Airlines, and it is possible that some of these aircraft could be provided to Express Airlines I.

Source: Flight International