Turboprop beats jet for VLM

27 Mar 2008 by Mark Caswell

Last April the Belgian airline VLM proudly entered the jet age (see online news April 26, 2007). The acquisition of a single BAe146 was announced in a blaze of publicity. The 92-seat jet entered service on VLM’s popular London City (LCY) to Rotterdam route offering passengers smoother and faster flights.

It was a step change for this niche airline which, until then, had operated an all-turboprop fleet of F50s. But one year on and those smoother and faster flights are becoming a memory.

Earlier this month VLM withdrew that single BAe146 from its fleet. Passengers will once again have to get used to the slower F50s.

A VLM spokesman says that “the BAe146 has been returned to its lessor within the terms of its contract. Although the BAe146 is not ideal for such a short route, the trial was nevertheless considered successful.”

It’s understood today’s high cost of fuel (compared with what VLM had to pay 12 months ago) was a big factor in VLM’s decision to return the BAe146. The four-engined BAe146 jets are thirstier than VLM’s fleet of twin-engined F50 turboprops.

The carrier’s F50s now serve the LCY to Rotterdam route up to 10 times a day. In addition VLM’s F50s operate an additional 12 flights a day between LCY and nearby Amsterdam.

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Report by Alex McWhirter

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