ANDREW DOYLE / LONDON
Debis AirFinance bids to place idle twinjets as Germania buys ex-US Airways aircraft
Efforts are under way to resuscitate airline and investor enthusiasm for the Fokker 100 twinjet as residual values fall to unprecedented levels, stimulating interest in the type from low-cost European airlines.
Debis AirFinance, which owns and manages a portfolio of 31 Fokker 100s, the second largest after American Airlines, is finalising a campaign to boost the type's flagging fortunes by highlighting the aircraft's capabilities to the airline and financial communities.
"We believe there will be a newly created market, given the aircraft's operational capabilities and price," says Debis AirFinance senior manager sales and marketing Marian Pistik. He says Debis plans to unveil its strategy by the end of the first quarter this year.
The DaimlerChrysler leasing unit has 25 owned Fokker 100s on its books and manages a further six, which together have an average age of about 10 years, compared with the fleet-wide average of 10.5. Four Debis aircraft are in storage.
Pistik sees demand for the type from low-cost, but not necessarily no-frills, airlines operating feeder and franchise services for mainline airlines, particularly in Europe. Industry sources suggest Fokker 100s are changing hands for $0.9-2.2 million depending on age, specification and maintenance needs.
Berlin-based Germania has acquired 17 Rolls-Royce Tay 650-powered Fokker 100s from US Airways, which has retired its 40-strong fleet of the type, and will use the aircraft to set up a new airline.
"We are planning to start around June or July," says Germania managing director Mustafa Muscati. "We are going to fly domestic and European scheduled services, and also to tourist destinations," he adds. "These aircraft are the right size for the domestic and European market, and we got them cheap."
Meanwhile, Dutch entrepreneur Erik de Vlieger, who is attempting to take control of troubled French airline Air Lib, has approached Rolls-Royce and Fokker Services parent Stork about reconditioning a large number of Fokker 100s and their Tay engines.
De Vlieger has exclusive rights to buy 60 of the type from American Airlines, which is due to retire its 74-strong fleet over two years from the third quarter of this year.
Engine manufacturer R-R confirms company officials have met de Vlieger and "discussions are ongoing". The world fleet of Fokker 100s comprises 274 aircraft, of which 72 are in storage.
ADDITIONAL REPORTING BY DAVID KAMINSKI-MORROW AND KIERAN DALY IN LONDON
Source: Flight International