BAE Systems to see Quadrupling Of BAe 146/AVRO RJ Fleet In Gulf
BAE Systems says there will be a four-fold increase in the number of BAe 146/Avro RJs operating in the Gulf region within the next six months.
Speaking at the Financing Aviation in the Middle East Conference in Dubai on November 7, Andy Whelan, Sales Executive for BAE Systems Regional Aircraft stated:” Until recently, there were four BAe 146/Avro RJs operating in the region, but new business won by BAE Systems together with other transactions by third parties means that up to 15 aircraft will be operational by late Spring next year.”
This marked increase is indicative of the growing interest in regional aircraft in the Middle East as a whole, according to Mr Whelan. He pointed out that regional aircraft allow airlines to develop and grow thinner and shorter routes, whilst maintaining frequency. They are typically available on shorter lead times than larger commercial jets and they offer utility beyond the traditional scheduled airline passenger roles.
In particular, the recently re-launched BAe 146QT offers a unique 10-12 tonne payload to the region’s cargo operators who currently operate a diverse fleet of converted regional turboprop and jet aircraft.
Currently the BAe 146/Avro RJ fleet in the region is operated in a number of diverse roles. Two RJ85s are flown by the Bahrain Defence Force on a variety of transport duties, including VIP roles. In Abu Dhabi the Amiri Royal Flight of Abu Dhabi operates a VIP RJ70 and Royal Jet flies a RJ85 in a 42- seat first class configuration for high quality executive charter work.
Mr Whelan told the conference that BAE Systems Regional Aircraft has recently sold an Avro RJ100 into the region to an undisclosed customer for delivery in January 2008. The aircraft will be converted subsequently to a VVIP configuration.
He also told the conference that two other new operators have committed to the aircraft in recent months. The Dubai Air Wing has bought three RJ85s, previously operated by Mesaba Airlines in the USA. These aircraft are expected to be placed in service from Spring 2008 in a variety of roles, one of which will be as a VVIP aircraft.
This means, said Mr Whelan, that three Gulf State governments (Abu Dhabi, Bahrain and Dubai) have chosen the Avro RJ as their preferred regional VIP jet transport.
He also said that another new operator is Palm Aviation of Abu Dhabi, which has acquired the seven BAe 146-300s previously operated by China Northwest Airlines. Delivery of the first aircraft is planned for the end of the year and it is understood this too will be converted into a VIP configuration, he added.
Concluding, Mr Whelan told the conference that the Middle East represents a diverse, profitable and expanding market, which offers opportunities for aircraft financiers, owners, operators and suppliers.
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