US regional operator Pinnacle is holding discussions with United and Continental Airlines over the deployment of an eventual 15 Bombardier Q400 turboprops in the combined carriers' network.

United and Continental closed the financial transaction covering their merger in October, and are targeting achieving single operating status with FAA by year-end 2011.

Pinnacle subsidiary Colgan Airways began operating a first tranche of 15 Q400s under a deal with Continental Airlines from Newark in 2008.

Colgan/Continental Bombardier Q400
 © Bombardier

The company placed a follow-on order with Bombardier in January of 2009 for 15 additional aircraft, and took delivery of two Q400s during the third quarter under an existing capacity purchase agreement with United-Continental Holdings.

Three additional Q400s were delivered to Colgan in October and this month, the first new examples added after the closing of United and Continental's merger.

Before Continental and United reached a merger agreement, the aircraft were pegged for deployment at Continental's Houston hub, but now their likely initial deployment will be from Continental's Newark and Cleveland hubs, with some operations at United's Washington Dulles hub. And, says Pinnacle chief financial officer Peter Hunt, the final aircraft delivered next spring will likely be based in Houston.

Source: Flight International