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Bombardier shines light on Q400 with new orders, launch of cargo-passenger model

MONTREAL - Bombardier announced Tuesday agreements to sell six Q400 NextGen turboprop aircraft and launched a new cargo-passenger version of the popular plane at the Farnborough Airshow.

Horizon Air Industries Inc. of Seattle, which operates the largest fleet of Q400 planes, ordered an additional airliner worth US$32.6 million at list prices. That's on top of previous options for seven aircraft.

Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) will also oversee maintenance of the Alaska Air Group subsidiary's existing 52 Q400 aircraft at its facility in Tucson, Ariz., the company said in an announcement on Tuesday.

"We're thrilled that Horizon Air, a well-regarded regional airline and our long-term customer of almost 30 years, continues to look to Bombardier for its regional aircraft solutions," said Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier's commercial aircraft division.

Falcon Aviation Services of Abu Dhabi also signed a letter of intent for five Q400s, valued at US$160 million. The agreement is in addition to firm orders for three of the aircraft placed earlier in the year.

The company operates a fleet of corporate jets conducting VIP charter flights, as well as helicopters serving the offshore oil and gas industry.

Falcon said the addition of Q400 aircraft will support its expansion plans by giving customers a broader range of aircraft.

"We are bridging the gap of aircraft and experience with new reliable equipment and helping empower operators to achieve profitable operations," stated Mahmoud Ismael, Falcon's chief operating officer.

On Monday, it became the first CSeries customer in the United Arab Emirates by converting a letter of intent into firm orders for two CS300 aircraft, valued at about US$154 million at list prices.

Bombardier also launched a cargo-passenger version of the Q400 that will be able to carry up to 3,690 kilograms of cargo and 50 passengers.

Ray Jones, senior vice-president, sales, marketing and asset management for Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said the new version is suited for airlines operating routes with medium to low passenger loads, but with high cargo potential.

The new variant is in addition to recently launched dual-class and extra-capacity options that can carry up to 86 passengers.

Bombardier also confirmed Tuesday that Abu Dhabi Aviation was the previously unidentified Q400 NextGen customer which ordered two turboprops last April.

Since last week, Bombardier has unveiled 48 new orders and commitments for its new CSeries jets valued at more than US$3 billion, though the aircraft is grounded because of an engine problem and test flights have been halted.

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