Porter to purchase up to 30 CS100s: Reports

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Toronto Island-based Porter Airlines is expected to announce an order for up to 30 Bombardier CSeries 100 aircraft, as first reported by the Wall Street Journal.

The deal is understood to be comprised of 12 firm orders and 18 options for the 100- to 120-seat CS100, according to the reports.

The profile of the deal matches a letter of intent from an undisclosed Americas customer that was announced in December 2012. The undisclosed airline intends to purchase 12 CS100 aircraft with options for another 18 in a deal valued at $870 million at list prices and possibly reaching $2.08 billion if the options are converted.

Porter is planning a press event tomorrow at its hub at Billy Bishop Toronto City airport to "announce its growth plans at its home airport" but declines to confirm the reported CSeries order or indicate whether the event is connected to a potential order.

Porter would be Bombardier's first Canadian customer for the CSeries. Porter's fleet consists of 26 70-seat Bombardier Q400 turboprops, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows.

If Porter does plan to fly the CSeries out of its main hub, the airport could require some modifications, says RBC Capital markets analyst Walter Spracklin in a research note to investors.

"While no additional detail was provided, the CS100's ability to take-off and land at around 4,500ft runways, coupled with a superior noise footprint, makes the CSeries an ideal aircraft for Billy Bishop," he says. "However, we believe that significant rework at Billy Bishop, which currently has a runway of 4,000ft, will have to be completed before the CS100 is able to fly out of the island airport."

Porter could also choose to deploy the aircraft out of a different airport such as Montreal and use the CSeries to expand its footprint in the USA, said Spracklin.

Bombardier has firm orders for 66 CS100s and 114 of the 130-seat CS300s and options for 49 CS100s, 65 CS300s and 20 CS100/300s. The first flight of the CSeries flight test vehicle (FTV-1) is scheduled for June.

Bombardier has not confirmed the order.