Saab remains confident that there will still be a strong market for turboprops well into the next century, despite the increasing number of orders for regional jets.

Saab Aircraft president Gert Schyborger says the impact of the 50-seat regional jets has been to expand the market and create further expansion. "We are two different sub-sectors of the market," he says.

Saab is looking at new ways to encourage buyers of the Saab 2000 and at the show yesterday unveiled a new repair and exchange programme which, it claims, will dramatically reduce operating costs of the high speed turboprop.

"Economics rule this business," says Schyborger. Saab will be showing potential buyers figures indicating that seat-cost savings of up to 25% can be achieved when compared with other 50-seat aircraft.

The new programme, Carefree, lasts for six years and, says Schyborger, "-offers complete coverage for all Saab 2000 airframe and engine repairable parts and expendables, plus a substantial reduction in spares inventory requirement."

For the first 5,000 hours or two years the programme is provided free. The next four years are provided at a reduced price.

Saab also announced that Sicilian start-up operator Med Airlines has ordered a Saab 2000 with options for a further two aircraft to fly new routes from Trapani to Rome and to islands such as Pantelleria and Lampedusa.

Saab have picked up four new operators this year and are confident of adding a fifth while at Le Bourget.

Source: Flight Daily News