Siberian regional airline UTair has selected the Franco-Italian ATR 42 as its primary growth platform in the first-ever open tender for regional turboprops held by a Russian airline. UTair, ATR and Irish leasing company Magellan Air signed the respective letters of intent for five used ATR 42-300s on August 5, some three weeks before the parties expected to sign a firm contract.
Bombardier Dash 8
Bombardier acknowledged in late January that it has held “exploratory discussions” about collaboration in the turboprop market with Russian aircraft maker Aviacor, but it stopped short of confirming reports that it will transfer Q300 turboprop production to the underused factory, now owned by Oleg Deripaska’s Basic Element holding company.
Manassas, Va.-based Colgan Air will fly fifteen 74-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops under a 10-year capacity purchase agreement that Colgan’s new owner, Memphis-based Pinnacle Airlines, signed with Continental Airlines last month. The deal will see Colgan fly the new airplanes, scheduled for delivery from this December through June of next year, from Continental’s Newark, N.J. hub starting next January.
Life for Fairchild Metro and Merlin owners is looking up. Maintenance, repair and overhaul options for the airplanes have now expanded to include Springfield, Mo.-based Worldwide Aircraft Services, which M7 Aerospace bought last year. According to Jim McClean, president and general manager, the company has a solid history upon which it has built the new service.
Would-be Toronto City Center Airport tenant Regional Airlines Holding Co. (REGCO) has filed a C$500 million ($385 million) lawsuit against the city after it reversed an earlier decision to allow construction of a bridge across Toronto Harbor to the island airport. Chief executive Robert Deluce’s proposal for the new airline, slated for launch this fall with new Bombardier Q400 turboprops, hinged on a fixed road link to the airport.
As the emirate of Dubai helds its biennial international airshow last month, travelers from anywhere but a major city were feeling first hand the pressures against a robust regional-airline industry in the Arab world.
Jonathan Ornstein rarely goes more than a few weeks without making headlines in the aviation press, but the fiery CEO of Mesa Air Group outdid himself last year with the launch of his new Go! subsidiary in Hawaii.
Honolulu-based de Havilland Dash 8 operator Island Air suffered the first serious casualty of Mesa Air Group’s incursion into Hawaii last month when CEO Rob Mauraucher announced he planned to furlough or lay off 65 full-time employees, remove two aircraft from service and eliminate five of the regional airline’s 17 routes.
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.
The so-called regional jet revolution has in the minds of many rendered turboprops a quaint throwback to the days of “commuter” airlines. But this year’s spate of big orders for new turboprops has turned conventional wisdom on its ear, giving the last two Western builders of prop-driven airliners a renewed sense of vitality.