Bombardier inked a firm contract with Air Canada regional partner Jazz Air covering 15 Q400 turboprops, the Canadian manufacturer announced today. The order represents a conversion of an MOU signed in February.
Valued at $454 million at list prices, the firm order accompanied options on another 15 airplanes, potentially raising the value of the contract to $937 million. The deal calls for delivery of the single-class, 74-seat airplanes to start in May next year. Although Jazz describes the airplanes as “the perfect complement” to its current fleet of Bombardier CRJs and de Havilland Dash 8s, they will also happen to replicate the Q400s rival Porter Airlines flies from Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport, formally known as Toronto City Centre Airport.
Jazz’s mainline partner, Air Canada, last flew from Toronto City Center in 2006, when City Center Aviation–a company controlled by Porter Airlines founder Robert Deluce–evicted it from the island airport. Since then Porter has flown from the downtown field unopposed.
Air Canada has since filed a lawsuit against the Toronto Port Authority “seeking fair and equal access to a federally owned and operated facility.” Although the Port Authority intends to grant more slots from the airport, it plans to “grandfather” Porter’s right to its existing 100 slots and issue half of 92 new slots to the incumbent airline, leaving only 46 slots for Air Canada and any other airline wanting to fly from the island airport. Air Canada has twice requested 74 slots, for 15 proposed round-trip flights to Montreal and Ottawa and seven round trips to Newark, N.J.
Air Canada in late March won approval to plead its arguments in federal court, which has scheduled a hearing of the case for July 6 to 8.