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WestJet Airlines Ltd. (WJA-T) has selected the Bombardier Q400 to be the turboprop for its new regional carrier, choosing the Canadian-built plane over the French-Italian ATR 72-600.
The Calgary-based airline will order up to 45 of the Q400s over the next six years, WestJet chief executive officer Gregg Saretsky said Tuesday.
"We are very impressed with the Q400," Saretsky said in a statement. "Both ATR and Bombardier put forward excellent proposals and ultimately we believe the Bombardier Q400's combination of range, speed and seat density is the best choice to meet the needs of the market and how we plan to operate the regional airline. We look forward to working with another great Canadian company."
Montreal-based Bombardier (BBD.B-T) assembles the Q400 at its Downsview plant in Toronto.
Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said the manufacturer is pleased that WestJet picked its turboprop.
WestJet has firm orders for 20 Q400s, with an option to buy another 25. The new regional service is expected to be launched in the second half of 2013 in a bid to erode some of Air Canada's strengths flying to and from smaller centres.
Meanwhile, WestJet announced that its first-quarter profit jumped 42 percent to $68.3 million or 49 cents a share.