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Widerøe pressing for new Q400s to replace grounded fleet

Widerøe will not reinstate the Bombardier Q400s grounded by parent SAS Group last October but is pressing to replace the fleet with newer examples of the type.

The Norwegian regional carrier had four Q400s at the time of the grounding and has since added a brand new Q400 which, like the others, is parked. Some 30% of Widerøe's fleet has been put out of action.

Widerøe insists that the airline will no longer fly any of the Q400s affected by the original grounding, but says the carrier is trying to convince the SAS Group board to take new Q400s instead.

"We would like to keep operating the Q400. It's a fantastic aircraft for Widerøe," says the airline. "What we want is new Q400s. To fulfil our needs now, we need five aircraft."

Widerøe still has five Q400s on option. The carrier plans to sell or lease its current fleet - the four aircraft caught up in the October grounding are about six years old.

Although SAS Group has stated that it will address long-term replacement of the Q400 by the second half of this year, Wideroe says: "We have signals now that a decision is very close to hand."

Widerøe has been leasing Fokker 50 turboprops from Dutch company Denim Air and a Fokker 100 jet from France's Blue Line to cope with the shortfall in capacity created by the grounding.

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