CommutAir and United renew capacity agreements

Montreal
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CommutAir has renewed its capacity purchase agreements with United Airlines, extending its contract to operate turboprops for the mainline carrier through 2018.

The renewals of five and six years cover all of the Burlington, Vermont-based regional carrier's fleet of Bombardier Dash 8 Q200s and Q300s, says John Sullivan, chairman and chief executive of CommutAir, at the Regional Airline Association (RAA) annual conference in Montreal today.

CommutAir flies 16 37-seat Q200s and five 50-seat Q300s, according to Flightglobal's Ascend Online database.

Sullivan would be keen for a new turboprop. Like so many other regional airline executives, he says that he would be "delighted" to hear about a new 30- to 50-seat turboprop in the market.

Asked about the ATR 42, Sullivan says that CommutAir has "not counted out" the aircraft but that it does not like having a "single source" for turboprop aircraft.

Bombardier vice-president of marketing for commercial aircraft Philippe Poutissou said earlier at RAA that the OEM is considering a updates to its 70- to 80-seat Q400 and a possible stretch, but not resuming the smaller variants of the turboprop.

The Q200s and Q300s have an average of about 30,000 hours on them, says Sullivan. "They're pretty early in their life cycle," he says, noting that the airline is not under pressure to replace them.

The Q200s have an average age of 15 years and the Q300 14 years, according to Ascend.

CommutAir serves destinations in the midwest and northeast from bases at Cleveland Hopkins International, Newark Liberty International and Washington Dulles International airports.

Note: An earlier version of this article said that CommutAir had "counted out" the ATR 42.