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Bombardier deal gives turboprop crown to de Havilland Twin Otter planemaker

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Longview Aviation is poised to become North America’s largest maker of turboprops with its $300-million purchase of Bombardier’s Dash 8 program.


Scientists from NASA's Jet Propulsion Laboratory fly over the Tuolumne River Basin of California's Sierra Nevada mountain range in a de Havilland Twin Otter plane to measure the snowpack in 2014.


Haven Daley / AP

A little-known company on Canada’s west coast will become king of the turboprops and owner of some of the most storied brands in the country’s aviation history after striking a deal with Bombardier Inc.

Closely held Longview Aviation Capital Corp. is poised to become North America’s largest maker of turboprop aircraft with its $300-million purchase of Bombardier’s Dash 8 program, including the Q400. Longview is also buying the rights to the de Havilland trademark, bringing the brands under one company for the first time in decades. With its roots in England in the 1920s, De Havilland’s Canadian subsidiary made the Moth, the Chipmunk and the Beaver, the original bush plane used to fly the nation’s rugged north.

Longview, based in Victoria, B.C., manufactures the de Havilland Twin Otter — a successor to the Beaver used for island hopping and commuter travel — through its Viking Air Ltd. unit. It also makes the Canadair water bombers and provides parts and servicing for other aircraft. The Q400, which is used by Toronto-based Porter Airlines, is a commuter turboprop line with a range of up to 1,100 nautical miles, allowing it to fly from Paris to Stockholm or Bangkok to Hong Kong nonstop.

ATR, a joint venture of Airbus SE and Leonardo SpA, has been Bombardier’s archrival in the market for turboprops with 90 seats and below, and was global No. 1 last year, delivering 78 new aircraft vs. 30 Q400s.

A de Havilland Chipmunk flies over a historic Jet Provost aircraft.


A de Havilland Chipmunk flies over a historic Jet Provost aircraft.

Matt Cardy /

Getty Images

A Canadair 415 water-bomber.


A Canadair 415 water-bomber.

Marcos Townsend /

Montreal Gazette

While turboprops can be slower than jets, their appeal centres on a general ability to operate from the shorter runways of some smaller airports, combined with not-as-thirsty engines. The Q400 burns 30 per cent less fuel and produces 30 per cent lower emissions on short-haul routes where it has replaced similar capacity jet aircraft, according to Bombardier.

The segment is seeing strong growth from new markets like India and should keep going strong for at least the next decade, until hybrid planes and other new technologies start to complicate the picture, Viking Air chief executive officer David Curtis said in an interview.

Turboprops have “a really interesting niche,” he said. “There’s always going be a need for a very efficient turboprop.”

All the same, the development of more-efficient regional jets has squeezed turboprops from some of their traditional stomping grounds.

Latvia’s Air Baltic Corp. operates 12 Q400s on shorter routes around mainland Europe and Scandinavia, but is retiring the model as it shifts to a fleet of Bombardier-built A220 jets, formerly the C Series and now owned by Airbus.

“I’m sure that there’s still a market for the Q400,” CEO Martin Gauss said in an interview. “Just not the one we were using it for, which was connecting capital cities and business centres. That needs the speed and seats of a jet.”

Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham flies his de Havilland Beaver seaplane in 2017.


Seattle Seahawks tight end Jimmy Graham flies his de Havilland Beaver seaplane in 2017.

Ted S. Warren /

The Associated Press

After the deal, Longview will have about $1 billion in annual sales and 1,800 full-time workers at locations in Victoria, Calgary and Toronto. Curtis said the company, which was set up in 2016, isn’t planning any job cuts from the acquisition. While Bombardier has sold its de Havilland Downsview site in Toronto, Longview will continue operate there until at least 2021.

Despite reaching sales that have surpassed publicly listed companies like Shopify Inc. and BlackBerry Ltd., Longview isn’t planning to change the way it does business. It funded the Bombardier deal with its own cash and sees no need to turn to outside investors or to pursue a sale of itself, Curtis said.

“We don’t do these kind of things to flip them,” Curtis said. “It won’t be in my lifetime that we go public.”

by Kevin Orland and Frederic Tomesco

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City to provide update on LRT launch

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We're expecting to get another update on the launch of Light Rail Transit in the capital on Wednesday morning. 

The $2.1 billion project was expected to be up and running by November 2 but in early September the city learned the Rideau Transit Group would not be making the handover date. 

This put the city in a position to deduct $1 million from the next payment to the RTG, which will come once they achieve substantial completion. 

In September, the city said they were hoping to see LRT up and running by the end of Q1, or by the end of March. 

An update from the city manager in October, revealed there was still significant construction work required at Rideau Station. 

They were also keeping a close eye on Parliament Station, other west end stations and the ability to have multiple trains running along the line at the same time. 

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Gas prices could drop as low as 99 cents a litre on Thursday, expert says

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Attention Ontario drivers: don't gas up on Wednesday, wait until Thursday, when gas prices are forecast to fall.

That's the word from Dan McTeague, senior petroleum analyst at GasBuddy.com, a website that monitors gas prices throughout North America. McTeague says average gas prices on Thursday in the province could be the lowest since Oct. 5, 2017.

And some gas retailers could drop the price even lower, charging as low as 99 cents a litre, he predicted.

"Gas prices will be falling, anywhere you are, net four cents a litre. Not just the GTA, but pretty much all of Ontario," McTeague said on Wednesday.

The average price of a litre of gas in the GTA, currently $1.159, is expected to fall at midnight by four cents to $1.119 a litre.

Dan McTeague, a senior petroleum analyst for GasBuddy.com, said: 'the best advice would be, not to fill up today, but wait until tomorrow. You will save an average of a 4 cents a litre.' (CBC)

"We are going to see, as a result of yesterday's deep losses on energy markets, a net four cent decrease for motorists who will be filling up," he said.

"The best advice would be, not to fill up today, but wait until tomorrow. You will save an average of a 4 cents a litre. And of course, that could mean at many stations in the Toronto area, prices will be at or perhaps even below a dollar a litre."

McTeague, based in Toronto, said many gas retailers will charge below $1 a litre because they will shed their "operating margins," which could be 10 or 11 cents a litre, as part of "deep discounting."

He said motorists haven't seen the "magical number" of 99 cents in over a year.

Low prices expected to stay for next several days

McTeague said the markets are rattled because the price crude oil has dropped more than $20 a barrel in a month.

He said it's hard to say how long gas prices will stay this low.

"For now, it looks like this might be as good as it gets for the next several days."

McTeague said the drop is unexpected and it is in response to the rapid drop in the price crude oil. On Tuesday, crude oil dropped nearly eight per cent in value, he said.

"Consumers are now benefiting from that decrease."

For average drivers who use 60 litres a week, the decrease represents a savings of up to $15 a week, he added.

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Canadian oil producers hurt by double whammy

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Canada’s oil producers can’t catch a break.

Even as local production cuts help alleviate pipeline bottlenecks, heavy crude plunged below $18 a barrel for the first time since 2016 – dragged down by global oil prices.

“The differentials are holding to modestly improving but the global prices are sliding,” said Kevin Birn, a director on the North American crude oil markets team at IHS Markit. “We called it a double whammy.”

Oil sands producers including Canadian Natural Resource, Devon Energy, Cenovus Energy and Athabasca Oil have announced curtailments that may total 140,000 barrels a day or more, after a localised glut sent heavy Western Canadian Select (WCS) crude plunging to a $50 discount to West Texas Intermediate futures, the widest in Bloomberg data going back a decade.

Since then, WCS’s discount has narrowed to about $42 a barrel, but the absolute price has plunged along with world crude benchmarks amid concerns of oversupply. The US has granted eight nations waivers to continue buying Iranian oil, while Opec and Russia have boosted production. WTI futures dropped for a tenth straight day on Friday, falling briefly below $60 a barrel.

“Lower global oil demand growth estimates and soaring US production have all fed into this bearish crude picture,” Joan Pinto, an energy specialist at Canadian Imperial Bank of Commerce, said in a note. “The WCS differential has actually held in remarkably well, all things considered.”

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Adding to the Canadian oil woes, two pipeline projects that would eventually help producers get their crude to markets are facing court delays. At the weekend, a US court ruled that an environmental assessment of TransCanada’s Keystone XL pipeline was inadequate, a decision that could delay the $8 billion project by eight months. Earlier this year, a Canadian court ruled that the planned expansion of the Trans Mountain pipeline to the Pacific would need to undergo further regulatory reviews.

Canada’s crude export pipelines are rationing space after a surge of new production from the oil sands came online late last year and early this year. Recent refinery maintenance in the US Midwest has also reduced demand for Canada’s oil. Currently, just one export pipeline project, Enbridge’s Line 3 expansion, is under construction and scheduled to begin operating by the second half of next year.

Oil companies may be curtailing production now in anticipation that they will get better prices later when access to rail cars or pipelines improves, Mr Birn said.

“There is a financial upside to their strategy,” he said.

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