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Monday, December 10, 2007

SkyWest Inc. Orders 22 CRJ NextGen Jets

SkyWest, Inc. placed a firm order for 18 CRJ700 NextGen and four CRJ900 NextGen regional jets to be operated by SkyWest Airlines. The 18 CRJ700 NextGen aircraft, with 66 seats in a three-class configuration, will be operated under SkyWest’s United Express banner, while the four CRJ900 NextGen jets, with 76 seats in a two-class arrangement, will be operated under SkyWest’s Delta Connection banner. The transaction also includes 22 options which SkyWest can apply to either aircraft and makes SkyWest the 12th customer for the NextGen aircraft.
This is the first order for CRJ NextGen aircraft by SkyWest, Inc., which through its SkyWest Airlines and Atlantic Southeast Airlines (ASA) subsidiaries, already operates the world’s largest CRJ fleet with 363 aircraft. The fleet currently includes 244 CRJ200, 102 CRJ700 and 17 CRJ900 regional jets, bringing its total CJR fleet to 385. Based on aircraft list prices, the value of the firm order is approximately $773 million.
“This CRJ NextGen aircraft order builds on operational efficiencies and aircraft reliability that SkyWest has enjoyed for 15 years as a CRJ U.S. launch customer,” said Jerry C. Atkin, chair and CEO, SkyWest, Inc. “SkyWest looks forward to showcasing the NextGen aircraft’s enhancements to its passengers and employees.”
Including the SkyWest deal, Bombardier has recorded firm orders for 1,623 CRJ Series aircraft. As of October 31, 2007, 1,452 of these had been delivered to operators around the world.
In its annual Christmas-time briefing, Bombardier did a year-end review last week in Washington when Bombardier Aerospace Helene Gagnon, VP, public affairs and communications, and Rodney Williams, VP, commercial operations briefed reporters.
Gagnon reiterated that net orders for the latest company quarter totaled 124 compared to 95 in the same period a year ago, of these biz aircraft totaled 112 versus 57 a year previous, reflecting the booming business market. Bombardier signed 85 letters of intent with deposits for the Learjet NXT, the eight-place mid-sized biz jet.
She discussed the next generation C Series airliner. First revealed in June, the Pratt & Whitney-powered aircraft is for the lower end of the 100- to 149-seat commercial market. “We will make a go/no-go decision in 2008 so it could enter service in 2013,” she said.
Williams said at his first media lunch that Bombardier Regional Aircraft scored successes and achievements in 2007 but also faced challenges with the Q400 turboprop program.
“On the sales front, it was a good, successful year,” he said, recounting the 228 orders for CRJs and C Series aircraft in the company’s fiscal year to date, many to new customers worldwide prompting a production increase to one aircraft per three-day period. “So for FY 2008, we will deliver approximately 50 aircraft and 64 in FY 2009,” he said.
In February, the company launched the 100-seat CRJ 1000 with firm orders now in hand for 39 of this type and, in May, Bombardier launched the CRJ NextGen program. “To date, there are orders for 170 CRJ700/900/1000 NextGen aircraft,” he said. “Clear evidence that this type is very well received in just a short period of time by the airlines.”
Williams said the challenge has been the Q400 issue with SAS. “We have worked very hard with our customers and regulatory authorities in Europe the United States and Canada,” said Williams. “We believe we have achieved great success in the work done and we have complete confidence in the Q400 aircraft and its prospects. We firmly believe these problems are now behind us. And so do the airlines. We’ve taken orders for 92 Q400s so far in this fiscal year, including the Qantas order for 12, plus 24 options.”
As for a stretch Q400, Williams said the company continues to study Q400X, but has no timetable for possible launch. But it is certainly active with our company. “So to sum up, CRJ orders are over 1,600,” he said, “Q-series orders total more than 930, which form our perspective, represents outstanding numbers by any measure,” he said.
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