This week, commercial aircraft buying, selling, and lease structuring powerhouse Jetcraft Commercial announced that it had closed a deal for 25 CRJ200 airframes. This move followed another recent development for the company when it delivered two of three ATR-600s to Uzbekistan's new airline, Silk Avia, last month. These events mark a strong half-year for regional aircraft.

New beginnings

Start-up outfit Silk Avia seeks to provide a passenger route network from its country’s capital, Tashkent, to regional hubs while also offering domestic flights between local areas. It joins a plethora of regional airlines across Asia amid the continent’s abundance of remote airports in challenging landscapes.

Jetcraft's acquisition of 25 CRJ200 bolsters the firm's arsenal to meet this growing regional demand. The company highlighted that the aircraft have generated considerable interest throughout Asia, Africa, North America, and South America. As travel ramps up, airlines are strategically planning how to efficiently yet profitably cater to demand. As such, smaller, sleek aircraft are becoming increasingly popular in the current climate.

We reported this week how several operators are turning their attention to Embraer’s E2 jets. Their efficiency and size offer a fantastic solution to serve busy routes at airports that have certain restrictions, such as smaller runways, noise limitations, and tricky terrains.

Subsequently, twinjet CRJ and turboprop ATR aircraft are also fitting the mold. We can expect more orders and deliveries for aircraft to continue as key markets, including China, only just relaxed restrictions at the turn of the year.

2022 revenue passenger kilometers (RPKs) were 64.5% higher against 2021 year-on-year. The activity has continued to rise this year, and regional (domestic and International) operations are contributing heavily to this pattern.

The optimal fit

Raphael Haddad, President, Jetcraft Commercial, recently spoke with Simple Flying about the regional phenomenon. He noted:

After a crisis, we usually see demand spikes for regional aircraft. It’s a trend we are seeing again now. Regional aircraft are attractive compared to larger commercial airliners because they offer lower operating costs and are easier to fill with passengers."

He added that demand for narrowbody and widebody aircraft is growing, with parked aircraft returning to passenger service. Several regional airlines had plans to take on new planes or even launch services in 2020 and 2021, but the pandemic delayed expectations. Thus, with consistency now here in the industry, there is more confidence in the market.

"With the usual barriers to entry being reduced, we saw many new start-up airlines join the market – 63% of which were in the Asia Pacific region. Some of these will go on to be a success post-pandemic, but consolidation is inevitable,"

“While there is now a measure of stability in the aviation sector there is also still so much uncertainty with continuous “Black Swan” events affecting the market. This is making a return to pre-pandemic levels slower than previously thought, but the industry will thrive once again.

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Looking forward

Macroeconomic challenges are creating challenges for the market, especially in Europe and North America. Yet, this notion only fuels the need for right-sized aircraft to optimize efficiency and balance the books on each flight.

The ATR 42-600 received certification in China late last year. Moreover, India is even planning to start building established regional jets. All in all, prospects are strong for regional aircraft in major sectors.

What are your thoughts about regional aircraft opportunities? What do you make of the overall potential? Let us know what you think in the comment section.