Jet builder's decision grounds Skyway plan
By Avrum D. Lank
of the Journal Sentinel staff
Last Updated: Aug. 14, 2000
Skyway Airlines will have to rethink its fleet expansion plans after Fairchild Dornier Corp.'s decision not to build a 42-seat regional jet, officials said Monday.
Fairchild, based in Oberpfaffenhofen, Germany, announced late last week that it had canceled plans to build its 428JET. Skyway, the commuter partner of Midwest Express Airlines, had ordered five of the planes, to be delivered in 2003. Fairchild said it decided not to build the 428 after only two other airlines joined Skyway in ordering it.
Skyway saw the 428 as filling a gap between the 32-seat Fairchild 328JETs in its fleet and Midwest Express' smallest DC-9, which seats 60, said Lisa Bailey, spokeswoman for both carriers.
Skyway also operates 19-seat propjets, while Midwest Express has MD-80s that seat up to 116.
The airlines have interlocking schedules with hubs at Milwaukee's Mitchell International Airport, where combined they carry more than 35% of the passengers. The airlines vary the size of planes on routes to match demand at different times of the day or week.
Skyway started to fly the 328s in October, becoming the first commercial carrier to do so. It has five in its fleet, with five more scheduled to come next year.
Bailey said Fairchild's decision not to make the 428 does not affect the orders for the 328s. She said Skyway would look at options to replace the 428s, although she was not specific.
James S. Altschul, president of Aviation Advisory Service, a financial consulting firm in New York City, said that both Embraer, a Brazilian company, and Bombardier Inc., a Canadian firm, make 50-seat regional jets. Those planes have list prices between $17 million and $21 million. Bombardier also has experimented with a 40-seat regional jet, Altschul said.
"There is incredible demand" for the 50-seat planes, he added, although he said Skyway probably could order some for delivery in 2003 if it decided soon.
Appeared in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Aug. 15, 2000.
What would you suggest Midwest Express picks for their fleet replacement? ERJs? CRJs? With the investment they made into the 328jet with hopes for fleet commonality, what should they pick?
I mean, for the right price I’ll fight a lion. - Mike Tyson