FARNBOROUGH, England, July 16 (Reuters) - Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier has expanded to four from one its range of Q400 NextGen turboprop regional airliners including an 86-seat version as it aims to bolster sales in emerging markets, a top company executive said on Wednesday.
Bombardier’s 74-seat Q400 has been popular on North American routes for more than a decade but with the addition of three new variants the Montreal-based company aims to compete better globally with rival maker ATR, which is a partnership between Airbus Group and Alenia Aermacchi.
“We’ve had to adjust because we were not successful in emerging markets,” Guy Hachey, president of Bombardier Aerospace, told Reuters in an interview at the Farnborough Airshow.
He said while Bombardier models offered more seating, higher speeds and the advantage of an auxiliary power unit (APU) allowing gate boarding with the engines shut down, ATR’s lower prices were helping it draw emerging market customers.
“In the developed markets we’ve done extremely well, however in the emerging markets we get killed,” Hachey said. “So what we’ve done is we’ve developed different variants of the Q400.”
The three new variants include a dual-class configuration, the 86-seater which Thai carrier Nok Air has ordered, and a “Combi” which takes seating down to 50 but bolsters revenue-generating cargo space for less busy passenger routes.
“Up to 90 seats in turboprops is going to be a very good segment,” Hachey said, while noting the Combi version could help carriers on thinner routes.
The company, which celebrated its 500th Q400 deal on Wednesday, expects the industry to see demand for 5,600 aircraft in the 60-99-seat range over the next 20 years.
It expects the global fleet to double in this market segment, with demand evenly split between turboprops such as the Q400 and large regional jets. (Editing by Mark Potter)