Albanian Airlines buys a BAe 146

Albanian Airlines is joining the ranks of BAe 146 operators. The Albanian national airline is acquiring a series 200 previously operated by Malmö Aviation from the Trading and Services business of BAE Systems Aircraft Services Group. Albanian decided on the BAe 146 as a replacement for its Tupolev Tu-134s a year ago, and has been working with BAE Systems to secure a suitable example. In addition to being substantially quieter than the stage II Tu-134, the 146 also offers a substantial capacity increase. In Albanian service, the 146 will be configured with 96 seats arranged 6-abreast, compared to the Tu-134’s 76 seats. Albanian flies from Tiranë, the country’s capital, to Bologna, Frankfurt, Istanbul, Pristina, Rome, and Zürich. The airline was acquired in 1995 by Kuwait’s M.A. Kharafi Group, one of the largest foreign investors in Albania. It’s current fleet is wet-leased from Bulgaria’s Hemus Air, and operated under the latter’s Air Operators Certificate. BAE Systems has been working on placing BAe 146s in eastern and central Europe for some time. Air travel to and within the region is expanding rapidly, but many new markets remain too small for larger equipment such as Boeing 737s, while noise restrictions and high maintenance costs are forcing the replacement of the remaining Russian-built airliners. Albanian is scheduled to take delivery of its BAe 146 in May, once the aircraft has received a ‘C’ check from British European Aviation Services (BEAS), British European‘s engineering arm.

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