The proposed WestJet Regional airline is a step closer to reality with news that the carrier has selected Bombardier to provide its aircraft.
The manufacturer will supply the airline with the Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft. Itís a smaller turboprop airliner that the WestJet Regional carrier plans to deploy on routes to new destinations not currently served by the main WestJet airline.
The same aircraft is used by the Air Canada Express regional airline, as well as by the commuter carrier Porter Airlines who have routes in eastern Canada including at Toronto Island Airport. The aircraft can seat over 70 passengers.
The airline said the Q400 was chosen because of its range, speed and seat density.
The announcement was made Tuesday. According to a company news release, WestJet Regional has signed a letter of intent to purchase 20 of the Bombardier Q400 aircraft right away, with an option to purchase a further 25 later.
WestJet expects to launch the new regional airline in the second half of 2013. The airline also stated Tuesday that they plan to announce their initial regional schedule, using the new Q400s, later this year.
The proposed regional airline has drawn interest from several smaller cities in western Canada including North Battleford. The city is seeking to be included as one of the stops on the carrierís routes.
The new carrier would be targeting smaller and underserved markets, and the Battlefords Chamber of Commerce had earlier declared its support for efforts to attract the airline to the Cameron McIntosh Airport. Mayor Ian Hamilton said at city council that a delegation that would also include Lloydminster and Prince Albert was to meet with WestJet to express interest and seek more information.
The City also recently applied to the Community Airport Partnership program to upgrade the runways at the airport, in conjunction with their efforts to attract regional service.