Canadian low-cost carrier WestJet Airlines has placed a $683m conditional order with Bombardier Aerospace for 20 Q400 NextGen aircraft.
The order follows the signing of letter of intent to buy the aircraft in May and also includes options for additional 25 Q400 NextGen aircraft, which if exercised would increase the total value of the order to $1.59bn.
According to an internal WestJet poll conducted in early 2012, 90% of WestJetters were supporting the launch of a regional airline serving regions across Canada.
Scheduled to begin operations in the second half of 2013, the regional airline is expected to serve airports from coast-to-coast that are currently considered under-served.
At present, WestJet offers scheduled and chartered air services in North America and the Caribbean.
Built at Bombardier's Toronto, Ontario facility and successor to the Dash 8/Q-Series aircraft line, the Q400 NextGen turboprop airliner is suitable for short-haul operations and has a seating capacity of 70 to 80 passengers.
Designed to meet contemporary regional air transport requirements which are characterised by turboprop and jet missions, the Q400 airliner uses 30% to 40% less fuel, while reducing emissions in the same range.
The Q400 aircraft, offering a maximum cruise speed of 360k, features an improved cabin environment with new LED lighting, new ceiling panels, dished window sidewalls and enhanced overhead luggage bins.
Bombardier said that the aircraft's features when combined with active noise and vibration suppression (ANVS) would offer an improved cabin experience for passengers.
With more than 428 Q400 and Q400 NextGen airliners on order, Bombardier's aircraft are currently operational with nearly 40 operators globally.
Image: A Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft in WestJet livery. Photo: courtesy of Bombardier.