Sun-Air of Scandinavia, the Danish regional-turboprop operator and British Airways franchise airline, is to purchase two ex-Seoul Air International British Aerospace ATPs from BAe Asset Management-Turboprops (AMT). The move comes as a result of increasing load factors on the airline's twice-daily Manchester-Billund service, and as part of a long-term fleet restructure which will eventually see the inclusion of jet-powered aircraft.

The airline also operates two 30-seat J41s leased from BAe AMT, one of which is to be purchased off lease. The airline is in negotiation for a third J41 (ex-Seoul Air International), and is in the process of reducing its 18-seat Jetstream 31 fleet from ten aircraft to six.

Delivery of the ATPs - bought direct by Sun-Air - is expected in September, to replace the J41 on the North Sea BA franchise route, which Sun-Air owner and chief executive Niels Sundberg says needs "extra capacity, with comfort for the business passenger". He expects annual passenger numbers to rise from the current 130,000 to 200,000 in the next year.

Sundberg sees the purchase of the 64-seat ATPs as a "link" between the fleet of turboprops, and the phasing in of jet-powered aircraft "-by 2000. We are not ready for jet operations yet," he says.

Billund-based Sun-Air became the first offshore airline to be included in the BA Express franchise scheme, joining in 1996. It runs feeder services to Denmark, Norway and Sweden.

Source: Flight International