Russia was a priority for Bombardier long before it dispatched Q400 C-GLKU on a worldwide tour. Now, with issuance of Russian certification of the high-speed turboprop on June 6, Bombardier redoubled its marketing efforts in the promising market, sending the Q400 demonstrator to Moscow, Saratov, Kazan, Tyumen, Yekaterinburg, Kemerovo, Yuzhno-Sakhalinsk, Yakutsk, Magadan and Anadyr from May 21 to June 9. Over the next 20 years, the Canadian manufacturer expects Russia to need some 200 large turboprops and, as of now, Bombardier builds the biggest and fastest, albeit also the most expensive.
The last of 11 ATR 72-500s grounded on March 18 by New Zealand’s Mount Cook Airlines due to hairline cracks found on a front fuselage frame will likely return to service by the end of this week, an ATR spokesman told AIN Thursday. Subsequent checks on the entire fleet showed similar cracks on at least nine of the airplanes.
The Western world’s two remaining turboprop makers each made sales headlines at last week’s Singapore Airshow, where Indonesia’s Lion Air padded ATR’s already robust order book and Bombardier’s Q400 showed signs of life following a lengthy dry spell.
Air Canada regional subsidiary Jazz Aviation began operating its first 74-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop on June 7 on a route linking Toronto Pearson International Airport with Quebec City. On May 26 the airline took delivery of the first of 15 Q400s, all of which will replace 50-seat Bombardier CRJs as the delivery schedule stretches into July 2012. Jazz also holds options on another 15 airplanes.
Air Canada launched the first direct competition against Bombardier Q400 operator Porter Airlines out of Billy Bishop Toronto City Airport on May 1, when the flag carrier’s new regional subsidiary, Sky Regional Airlines, began service between the downtown Toronto airfield and Montreal. Flying under the new Air Canada Express brand, Sky Regional operates hourly Q400 service up to 15 times daily, between 7:30 a.m.
Qantas has placed a firm order with Bombardier for seven Q400 NextGen turboprop airliners in a deal valued at $218 million based on list prices for the airplanes. The order adds to the 21 Q400s operated by QantasLink. The first new aircraft are due for delivery in the first half of 2011. Bombardier has booked firm orders for 385 Q400 NextGen aircraft including the Qantas order. The Canadian manufacturer has delivered 300 to date.
Last month’s Regco order for 10 Q400s accompanied a flurry of minor transactions for Bombardier since AIN’s February issue went to press, starting with a contract for a pair of 74-seat Q400s from South African Airways.
Bombardier Aerospace announced yesterday that Exeter, UK-based FlyBe has converted four options on the Bombardier Q400 turboprop airliners to firm orders. The contract is valued at about $100 million. Delivery of the four aircraft, coupled with the order for 20 Q400s announced January 27, will increase FlyBe’s Q400 fleet to 45 aircraft. Yesterday’s contract increases orders for the Q400 to 151 aircraft.
Air New Zealand (ANZ) has converted options on three 50-seat Bombardier Q300 turboprops on behalf of its wholly owned regional airline subsidiary, Air Nelson. In October 2004 ANZ placed a firm order for 17 Q300s and took options on 10 more of the 50-seaters and thirteen 70-seat Q400s. As of September 30 Bombardier had delivered nine Q300s to ANZ.
Excess capacity created by Mesa Air Group’s Go! unit has forced Hawaii’s largest turboprop island hopper, Island Air, to ground its Bombardier Q400 only five months after receiving it from the manufacturer. Island Air has also postponed delivery of two more Q400s for at least six months while CEO Rob Mauraucher looks for a place to temporarily redeploy the first airplane.
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