Vincent Aviation, a New Zealand-based carrier with operations overseas, has signed a dry-lease for Saab 340Bs and has longer-term plans to buy or lease an ATR 42.

The company is expanding its outfit in Darwin, Australia and has just signed a contract to dry-lease two Saab 340Bs that it hopes to start operating in mid-April, says Vincent Aviation managing director Peter Vincent.

It also plans to sign dry-leases on a third and fourth Saab 340B and add these to the fleet in two to three months from now, he adds.

The four Saab 340Bs are ex-MacAir aircraft maintained by Townsville maintenance, repair and overhaul firm Worland Aviation, says Vincent, adding that all four aircraft are now parked in Townsville.

Vincent Aviation is leasing the Saab 340Bs from two undisclosed Australian companies, says Vincent. These two companies previously had the aircraft at MacAir, a Brisbane-based regional carrier that went into bankruptcy January last year.

Vincent Aviation mostly operates 19-seat Beechcraft 1900C/Ds and 9-seat Cessna 441s but it has one 40-seat Bombardier Dash 8-100 that it has just transferred from New Zealand to Darwin to serve its 14-times-weekly Darwin-Groote Eylandt service.

The carrier needed to step up to a 40-seat aircraft on the route to meet passenger and cargo demand, says Vincent. It also has to compete on the route against Air North, which operates 30-seat Embraer EMB-120 Brasilia aircraft.

When asked if the airline is looking to add more Dash 8s, Vincent says the carrier wants to get an ATR 42 instead.

"The Dash-8 has its limitations for us," he says, adding that "it lacks the fuel capacity for a lot of the flying that we do and APUs (auxiliary power units) are not common on the Dash 8."

He says the ATR 42 has more fuel capacity than the Dash 8 and the aircraft's right engine can be kept running, when the aircraft is on the ground, to act as an APU, an important feature when the aircraft is operating to remote airports.

Vincent Aviation ideally wants to buy or dry-lease an ATR 42-500 but is more likely to start with one of the older model ATR 42s which are cheaper to acquire, says Vincent.

The airline has been speaking to ATR's people in Singapore including Laurent Negre who was previously based in Australia, he adds.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news