For many projects which want to start up at one stage or the other the question arises, which plane to choose. Especially Regional Airlines are able to choose from a large varity of planes: B1900, Metro, D228, EMB-110, J31/32 in the 19-seat sector; Dash 8-200, EMB-120, S340, D328, J41 in the 30-seater range and the ATR42, F50, Dash 8-300 in the 50-seat sector.
Whilest most sectors which are viable with a 50-seater are occupied by one of the major carriers or their affiliated, the 19- and 30-seater routes are usually left aside as they are too small. Here for most regional start-ups a market opens: point-to-point traffic with props.
Whilest 19-seaters might be the cheapest option they are the least comfortable option. A key fact are the missing flight attendants and thus the low degree of service which is offered. Even though a route might be more profitable on the paper with a 19-seater passengers are getting less and less likely to accept this type of service.
A 30-seater looks quite a lot more promising, especially a modern one. A flight attendant is on board, you can actually stand in the cabin and the plane is not too crampt - for a 1-2h flight acceptable. Whilest you are for sure not able to advertise the comfort of a 19-seater you might be able to do this with a 30-seater.
Taking a lookon what is available, you will soon come to the conclusion (IMO) that two planes will stand out of the 30-seaters: the Dash 8-100/200 and the Dornier 328.
The Dash 8-100/200 have the advantage that they have a larger brother, the -300 and -400 and are thus part of a family. The problem: they are a bit slow. Here the Dornier 328 wins hands-down, with its high speed you might be even able to put in another sector. And it´s jet brother, the 328JET might appeal as a jet upgrade if customers in the future start to avoid props even more.
Costwise both are quite close, however it is likely that Dornier 328 leasing costs will start dropping soon with 18 currently being in storage and 38 being earmarked for retirement. Maybe an opportunity for start-ups?