Republic works to improve Q400 reliability

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Republic Airways Holdings is working with partner United Airlines to get additional Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s back in service, following a modification programme in the fourth quarter to improve their operational reliability.

The regional carrier operates 28 Q400s for United Express as of the first quarter, according to its fleet plan.

Republic had taken on the Q400 flying for United, after signing an agreement to operate 32 of the type for United Express. Of the 32 Q400s, 28 were formerly operated by Colgan Air, a subsidiary of Pinnacle Airlines which filed for bankruptcy protection in April 2012. The remaining four had already been operated by Republic.

The Q400s that had come out of the Pinnacle bankruptcy were "not well-maintained", says Republic's chief executive Bryan Bedford in an earnings call today.

The regional carrier has been working closely with Bombardier and United to "get those airplanes back up to snuff", he adds. As a result, 31 of the 32 Q400s were put through a modifications programme in the fourth quarter, which has had some positive impact on their reliability, says Bedford.

"We are working with United to put those additional spare aircraft back in service," he adds, saying the airline does not foresee it to be a long-term issue. He declines to quantify the amount Republic has spent on the programme in the fourth quarter to improve the Q400s' reliability, but says it is not significant.