Carrier group talks to Bombardier and Embraer to see if fractional plan for regional aircraft orders can make routes pay
The Association of South Pacific Airlines (ASPA) is studying fractional ownership of regional aircraft by Pacific carriers as a possible economic solution to poor intra-Pacific air travel links.
The concept was first discussed by association members late last year and will be discussed in more detail at their meeting in June, says John Campbell, managing director and chief executive of Air Pacific, which is spearheading the project. Campbell says regional jet and turboprop manufacturers Bombardier and Embraer have been approached to model aircraft performance on regional routes.
Intra-Pacific travel is currently characterised by low frequencies, high fares, unco-ordinated schedules with poor connectivity and compounded by small market size, slow growth and high costs. Airbus A320/Boeing 737-size aircraft that are operated by carriers in the region are too large for the markets and do not allow increased frequencies, which is the key driver of traffic growth, says Campbell.
Regional jets with a 50- to 75-seat capacity would be most suited to the market, but are too costly for individual carriers to purchase and there are no spares, maintenance, or training capabilities for these types in the region, he adds.
"The concept of fractional ownership was floated as being one possible solution to the vexed issue of intra-Pacific flying where current A320/737 aircraft are too large but each individual airline does not have the work for, or cannot afford, an individual fleet of regional jet/turboprop aircraft," he says.
As part of the project, Fiji-based Air Pacific is conducting a fleet study while ASPA is studying routes and modelling traffic flow. Campbell discussed the proposal at a European Union-sponsored conference earlier this month. ASPA has approached the European Commission to fund a study on ownership and financing options.
EMMA KELLY / PERTH
Source: Flight International