Mike Martin

Whatever becomes of Saab Aircraft, existing and future customers will continue to get full support from the company, says sales director Dag Waldenstrom.

With a substantial part of the Saab 340 fleet owned by the company, "Éit is in our interests to keep the fleet flying for a long time, to make sure the value of aircraft is maintained and to protect our investment," says Waldenstrom.

"We have a good reputation and we can't run away."

If a decision is made to cease production of its 340 and 2000 regional turboprops in 1998 - Saab has said it will do so if no further orders are obtained by the end of this year - the aim is to expand existing aerostructures sub-contracting work.

At the same time, a new leasing organisation will be established in Stockholm and fleet support will be reorganised. All contracts will be honoured and support facilities maintained, says Waldenstrom, adding that significant numbers of aircraft will still be available.

Waldenstrom believes with engineering being integrated into customer support, clients will actually get a better service.

Main company locations will be reduced to four - Linkoping, Washington, Tokyo and Sydney. The UK-based international sales and marketing office will close.

There are 423 Saab 340s in service and a further 46 Saab 2000s. The company has said that whatever happens, it will build the 11 340s and eight 2000s in its backlog.

Although a final decision to stop production has not been taken, observers believe it is unlikely that aircraft will be built by Saab beyond the end of 1999. Much will depend on airlines such as Mesaba and Crossair, which could announce orders this week.

It is one of the ironies of Dubai '97 that Saab Aircraft has one of its strongest presences ever, with a chalet and a stand.

With a question mark now over the future of aircraft production, it would have been understandable, if sad, had the company stayed away.

Instead the company chose to use the show to emphasise its commitment to remain a "solid business partner" to customers.

Waldenstrom says the company had learned from the experience of Fokker. Its sudden collapse created real problems for customers.

"We have taken a proactive approach to this. We have called customers to let them know what is happening."



Source: Flight Daily News