Air Transport World

The new order: regional aircraft makers note: many of your customers are outperforming the big boys and will be back in the fold soon.

The oft-heard maxim, "when major airlines sneeze, regional carriers get pneumonia," may not apply to aircraft-order deferrals. It appears now, that many of the deferred options and orders of aircraft by major carriers may be permanent cancellations, while those deferrals of regional aircraft are temporary and will be reactivated once the market improves, according to a number of industry experts.

Last year, ATW predicted that U.S. regional airlines would be forced to cancel or at least defer numerous options on 1,598 turboprop aircraft ordered worth $10.6 billion and $21 billion worth of regional jets. With the exception of AMR Eagle and United owned Air Wisconsin, no additional order or option deferrals of regional aircraft have occurred. Conversely, the big three, United, Delta and American, along with leasing company GPA, have deferred options on hundreds of aircraft that appear to be lost.

Months ago, when AMR Eagle President Bob Martens proclaimed deferrals on 12 ATR 42s, 47 Super ATRs, 20 Saab 340Bs and 35 BAe Jetstream 41s, it was thought to be a bad omen for regional manufacturers. It appears now that that presumption was wrong. Apart from the predicted market improvement, analysts feel that the major airlines' future lift needs will be met by smaller turboprop or twinjet aircraft, which are more-efficient producers of capacity.

"With all deference to Boeing, which maintains wrongly that there will be larger and larger aircraft in the U. …

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