Russian carrier Yakutia is to begin operating Bombardier Q400s shortly, the first airline in the country to use the type following its approval by local authorities.
Yakutia has received the first of three Q400s at its Yakutsk base this week, says the carrier, adding that the type will be used to replace Antonov An-24s on regional routes.
Its acquisition is in line with the aims of a state programme to develop the Sakha republic's transport system over 2012-16. Russia's certification authority, a division of the Interstate Aviation Committee, granted type approval to the Q400 in June last year.
"The main criteria for the choice of this type of aircraft were the possibility of landing on unpaved airfields, with short runways, and operation in low temperatures," says the carrier.
Three 73-seat aircraft will be delivered to the operator in the first quarter of 2013. Yakutia will use the type on services to Khabarovsk, Blagoveshchensk, Chita and Krasnoyarsk.
"We hope the flights on the Bombardier aircraft, given the passenger comfort and operating efficiency, will contribute to optimisation of our company's regional operations," says Yakutia general director Ivan Prostit.
Yakutia's turboprop fleet has included the Antonov An-140 while the carrier is also an operator of Western-built jet types, among them Boeing 737-700s and -800s, as well as 757-200s.
It is also a customer for the Sukhoi Superjet 100 and, on 31 January, took delivery of its second airframe. Aircraft number 95020 arrived from the completion centre in Ulyanovsk following a formal handover.
Sukhoi says the airline - which had ordered two Superjets - will use the 93-seat twinjet to such destinations as Khabarovsk, Novosibirsk and Harbin.