Bombardier won a long-anticipated and hard-fought operational lease deal from Northwest Airlines for 75 CRJ-440 regional jets, the newly designated 44-passenger version of the 50-seat CRJ-200. The airline has also taken options on an additional 175 CRJ-440s. Northwest, which still has not revealed which of its primary regional affiliates–Express Airlines I or Mesaba Airlines–would sublease the airplanes, plans to begin taking deliveries in the third quarter of next year. To date, Memphis-based Express Airlines I has received 20 CRJ-200s as part of a February 1999 order for 54 airplanes.
Meanwhile, in a move sure to fan the flames of the trade war with Brazil, Canada pledged to provide up to $1.2 billion of low-interest financing to help fund the $1.7 billion deal. Canadian trade minister Pierre Pettigrew said the government took the action to counter similar low-interest financing offered by Brazil to Northwest and other prospective customers of Brazilian aircraft maker Embraer. Of course, Brazil has cried foul over the subsidies, and insists the new version of its ProEx interest-rate-rebate program complies with WTO rules–an assertion Brazilian officials claim the trade organization will uphold in its latest ruling on the matter, expected to be made public late last month.