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Bombardier's Q400 airplane.
Bombardier's Q400 airplane.

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Bombardier gets Jazz-ed; warnings from Greece Add to ...

Stories Report on Business is following today:

Jazz gives Bombardier a lift

Jazz Air will buy at least 15 turboprop airliners worth $454-million from Bombardier Inc., the two Canadian companies announced today.

Jazz currently sells most of its seating to Air Canada, which uses the Halifax-based regional airline's smaller planes to serve lower-traffic routes.

The airline, owned by Jazz Air Income Fund, has options on 15 additional Q400s - making Friday's deal worth up to $937-million (U.S.).

The president and CEO of Jazz Air, Joseph Randell, says the new Q400 planes will be configured with 74 seats.

The Q400 NexGen plane model was launched in 2008 and is assembled in Toronto, at Bombardier's Downsview manufacturing plant.

Jazz's fleet currently consists of 64 CRJ regional jets and 64 older turboprop plane models, all made by Bombardier.

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TransCanada profit falls

TransCanada Corp., Canada's largest natural gas shipper and a growing power producer, says its first-quarter profit fell by nearly 10 per cent amid lower revenues and continued capital spending on expansion projects.

The Calgary-based company's profit fell to $303- million (only $296-million attributable to common shares) from $334-million last year. Profit per share was 43 cents, down from 54 cents.

A more closely monitored measure of profitability, comparable earnings, was 48 cents per share or $328-million - missing analyst estimates by 2 cents per share.

The results were issued ahead of TransCanada's annual meeting in Calgary.

A statement by president and chief executive officer Hal Kvisle, who retires from the company in June, attributed the reduced profit to weaker power prices and higher business development costs associated with the Alaska Pipeline project - one of several TransCanada expansions that are planned or underway.

"TransCanada continues to make excellent progress on an outstanding suite of major projects that are part of our $22-billion capital program," Mr. Kvisle said.

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Federal deficit narrows

The federal government may be headed for a smaller deficit than it feared in the just past year, thanks to a quicker and stronger-than-expected recovery in economic activity.

Ottawa reported Friday that its deficit increased by a modest $902-million in February, compared to a $800-million surplus a year ago.

For the fiscal year - which has one more month to run - Ottawa's shortfall has now risen to $40.5-billion.

But that is still well below the record $53.8-billion deficit Finance Minister Jim Flaherty had projected in the March budget.

The Finance Department routinely cautions that timing factors can at times give a false impression of the state of the government's finances, and the monthly data is subject to revision, but the trend over the past few months has been generally rosier for the government.

The big surprise in February was that government revenues, which had been falling steadily, showed an $800-million improvement over last February.

Especially robust were revenues from corporations, which were $1-billion - or 31 per cent - stronger.

GST revenues were also up, but receipts from personal income taxes were down about seven per cent.

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Dire warnings from Greek PM

Details of a rescue plan with the International Monetary Fund and the European Union have entered the final stretch and by most accounts, a cash infusion isn't too far off. But Greek Prime Minister George Papandreou is warning that new austerity measures must be taken for the survival of debt-ridden Greece.

The talks over what extra steps Athens must take as part of the rescue, which will provide €45-billion in loans this year and up to a reported €120-billion over several years, are expected to be completed over the weekend, possibly by Sunday.

Once an agreement on further cuts is in place, Germany - which would be the largest EU contributor to the aid package and has insisted on strict conditions for releasing the money - is expected to quickly push the issue through parliament so funds can be approved before Greece faces a May 19 debt payment date.

"The measures we must take, which are economic measures, are necessary for the protection of our country. For our survival, for our future, So we can stand firmly on our feet," Mr. Papandreou said in Parliament.

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