Q400 air­craft pro­duc­tion will re­main in Canada: CEO

National Post (Latest Edition) - - FINANCIAL POST - Christo­pher Reynolds

MON­TREAL • The head of the B.C. com­pany that scooped up Bom­bardier Inc.’s Q400 tur­bo­prop busi­ness has pledged to keep all man­u­fac­tur­ing al­ready in Canada within the coun­try.

The Q400 se­ries is a “nat­u­ral fit” for Longview Avi­a­tion Cap­i­tal, chief ex­ec­u­tive David Cur­tis said.

“We like to say, ‘It’s the same colour of paint.’ In other words, the same pro­duc­tion pro­cesses.”

Bom­bardier an­nounced on Thurs­day it is sell­ing the Q400 pro­gram to a Longview sub­sidiary for about US$300 mil­lion, on top of the sale of its flight train­ing busi­ness to CAE Inc. for about US$645 mil­lion.

The Mon­treal-based com­pany man­u­fac­tures roughly 28 to 30 Q400 air­craft an­nu­ally at its Downsview prop­erty in Toronto, land that the com­pany sold ear­lier this year to the Pub­lic Sec­tor Pen­sion In­vest­ment Board.

Bom­bardier has a lease on the prop­erty un­til 2021, with a two-year ex­ten­sion op­tion.

“There’s no ques­tion, the writ­ing’s on the wall — we’ve got to move,” Cur­tis said.

“We don’t know yet what we’re go­ing to do, and un­til we get in there and talk with the folks about what’s the mar­ket op­por­tu­nity, we don’t have any de­ci­sions.”

Any fu­ture pro­duc­tion site will “ab­so­lutely not” leave Cana­dian soil, he said. “We wouldn’t out­source it.”

Longview, whose sub­sidiary Vik­ing Air Ltd. makes tur­bo­prop air­craft such as the Twin Ot­ter, in­tends to main­tain sup­ply chains for the Q400 se­ries that cur­rently


stretch from China to Ire­land to Mex­ico, he added.

The deal, which is slated to close in the sec­ond half of 2019, po­si­tions Longview to more than triple its an­nual rev­enue to $1 bil­lion, Cur­tis said.

Union and op­po­si­tion lead­ers in Que­bec spoke out against Bom­bardier’s move Thurs­day to lay off 5,000 work­ers, in­clud­ing 500 in On­tario and 2,500 in Que­bec, as part of a re­struc­tur­ing plan that cuts more than 12 per cent of its Cana­dian po­si­tions.

Mary Ellen McIl­moyle, pres­i­dent of a Uni­for lo­cal that rep­re­sents some of the 2,100 work­ers at Bom­bardier’s aero­space wing at Downsview, said her mem­bers feel “be­trayed.”

“Dur­ing bar­gain­ing in April, the com­pany said they were keep­ing the Q400,” she said. “It was a huge shock when we found they turned around and sold it.”

Work­ers’ lack of cer­tainty about the Downsview fa­cil­ity — which makes cock­pits and wings, among other com­po­nents — af­ter 2021 is their “big­gest con­cern,” she said.

“Our mem­bers are wor­ried about it be­ing moved to B.C.”

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