Air Europa Express is negotiating with BAE Systems over the early return of its entire fleet of British Aerospace ATP turboprops as it prepares to replace them with ATR 72s.

The Palma de Mallorca-based regional arm of Spanish carrier Air Europa currently has leases on 17 ATPs with BAE's Aircraft Services Group, which are not due to start expiring until 2005. The airline has been frustrated by BAE Systems' inability to provide additional aircraft as the airline expands, coming up against the UK manufacturer's policy prohibiting more than half of its aircraft portfolio being concentrated in a single airline. The carrier is thought to have taken an operational decision to try to return the ATPs early to ensure fleet commonality as it expands.


After an evaluation which included Bombardier's Dash 8 Q400 and regional jets, sources close to the negotiations say that it is finalising a deal with ATR for up to 20 70-seat ATR 72-500s for delivery from 2003. Airline sources say that the plan could take up to three years to complete, and will depend on the terms of BAE's lease return plan for the ATPs.

BAE says that a managed return of the ATPs would fit in well with its strategic plan for the aircraft, which is increasingly focused on the cargo market. BAE says that demand for the freighter version of the aircraft has been stronger than expected and will continue after the launch, later this year, of West Air Sweden's cargo door-equipped version of the aircraft (Flight International, 20-26 June 2000).

Source: Flight International