US regional operator Horizon Air has informed Bombardier of its desire to defer Q400 turboprop deliveries scheduled for 2009, 2010 and 2011.

In an investor update Horizon parent Alaska Air Group says it has not finalized a deal with Bombardier regarding the deferrals. However, the company says it expects "to reach an agreement later in the second quarter of this year".

Bombardier confirmed to ATI it is in discussions with Horizon "while it manages its business plans and fleet requirements, but to date, nothing has been finalized".

Horizon is seeking the deferrals largely due to the challenging environment in re-positioning 20 CRJ700s it is culling from its fleet, a carrier spokesman explains.

The carrier essentially wanted to add a Q400 as a CRJ700 was placed elsewhere, "but given the current environment that's been difficult", Horizon's spokesman explains.

Published fleet counts by Horizon do not show an equal amount of Q400s scheduled to come online as only 11 turboprop deliveries are scheduled from through 2011.

If Horizon and Bombardier agree to a revised schedule, Horizon would push back seven Q400 deliveries scheduled for 2010 and a single delivery in 2011, which accounts for all 11 deliveries scheduled for the next three years.

Previously, Horizon was scheduled to take delivery of five Q400s this year, and said two would arrive in the first quarter. Its latest fleet forecast shows three deliveries remaining for 2009. Currently, Horizon operates a total of 37 Q400s.

Horizon has placed two of the 20 CRJ700s with South African Express. The carrier opted to cut its CRJ700 fleet in order to operate a single fleet of Q400s.

Last year Horizon said it had a established a two-year timeframe to remarket the CRJ700s.

Horizon is the largest North American operator of the Q400. The carrier's preference to defer deliveries occurs just as Bombardier has started a planned Q400 production ramp-up.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news