British Airways shops for regional jets

Flight International reports that British Airways has issued a request for proposals for up to 100 regional jets. BA is reportedly considering the BAE Systems Avro RJX, Bombardier CRJ 700/900, Embraer ERJ-170/190, and Faichild Dornier 728JET/928JET for the order, which would likely cover 50 firm orders and 50 options. The move is part of BA’s efforts to consolidate its commuter affiliates, under which Avro RJ100 operator CityFlyer is to be merged with Gatwick-based EOG, and BAe 146 operator British Regional Airlines (BRAL), which operates as a BA franchise operator, may be acquired and merged with subsidiary Brymon. CityFlyer has three outstanding orders for RJ100s, for delivery in the next few months, and six options for RJX-100s. These options will now only be taken up if BA opts for the RJX for the entire regional jet order. BRAL, though at one point seen likely to order RJXs, had apparently chosen the ERJ-170. This order would also be superseded by any BA order, assuming BRAL is in fact acquired. Prospects for the RJX to win the order appear mixed. The RJX would be available sooner, and would provide a full range of sizes from the start. And of course the RJX is the only jet among those under consideration able to serve airports such as London City (although at present no British Airways affiliate serves the airport). But BAE Systems would be hard pressed to deliver the numbers required, given its current production rate of about 20 aircraft a year. The Bombardier CRJ-700 is available now and the CRJ-900 will follow soon, but at 86 seats the latter falls well short of the top end of the 70-110 seat range specified in the BA tender, and it may be impractical to stretch the design further. The Embraer and Fairchild Dornier products have a distinct advantage in being all-new designs, but they have yet to fly, and the larger members of their families would not be available for several years.

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