DUBAI: WestJet likely to exercise Q400 options next year

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Low-cost carrier WestJet will likely exercise most of the 25 options attached to a 20-aircraft firm order for the 70-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft, says chief executive Gregg Saretsky.

The Calgary, Canada-based carrier’s Q400 fleet expansion, which includes consideration of a high-density version, comes after a successful entry into service on 24 June.

“The entry into service has gone exceedingly well,” Saretsky says, while speaking during a Bombardier-hosted press conference at the Dubai air show. “I’d expect we’ll exercise most of our options.”

The plan includes converting the options in the second quarter next year for delivery in 2015, he says..

Westjet signed a firm order for 20 Q400s with 25 options in May 2012. The carrier formed a regional airline subsidiary called WestJet Encore to operate the new aircraft.

In the first 150 days of operation, a total of six aircraft in the Q400 fleet delivered so far has compiled a 98.5% departure rating on 3,400 flights, Saretsky says. The Q400 also has an 84.6% on time arrival record until the last two weeks, when late autumn Canadian snowstorms lowered its score to 78.7%, he says.

“The entry into service has been remarkable,” says Saretsky, adding: “The performance of the Q400 could not be better.”

WestJet selected the Q400 after a competition and fly-off with the ATR 72-600.

The Q400’s “jet-like speed” helps the turboprop-engined aircraft compete on 800nm-long routes that competitors serve with regional jets, he says.