Fri, Jul 01, 2016 - Page 10 News List

Bombardier planemaker sees sales momentum


Bombardier Inc is seeing increased momentum for its C Series jet family, as the firm prepares the plane to make its commercial debut after a development process that was plagued by delays and cost overruns, chief executive officer Alain Bellemare said.

“A year ago, we were experiencing a lot of difficulties,” Bellemare told reporters on Wednesday in Mirabel, Canada. “Now clients are coming to us.”

Bombardier has made crucial strides to shore up its finances and demonstrate that the C Series program — which is two years late and US$2 billion over budget — has a long-term future.

In addition to securing firm orders from customers, including Air Canada and Delta Air Lines Inc, the Montreal-based company last week closed a deal to sell 49.5 percent of the C Series program to Quebec for US$1 billion.

Bellemare spoke at an event marking the first delivery of a C Series jet to Deutsche Lufthansa AG’s Swiss International unit. Swiss is to start flying the CS100 aircraft on July 15, marking the jetliner’s commercial debut.

“Air Canada gave us momentum, Quebec gave us momentum and Delta has put the seal of approval on top of that,” Bellemare said. “We have over 300 letters of intent and potential memorandums of understanding that we are working on and the performance of the plane is phenomenal.”

Canadian certification of the larger CS300 model should happen soon, Bombardier said, adding that Latvia’s AirBaltic Corp is to become the CS300’s first operator in the second half of the year.

Asked about prospects for orders at next month’s Farnborough Airshow in Hampshire, England, Bellemare said that Bombardier has “active” discussions with several potential buyers, without naming them.

He also expressed hope that Bombardier’s talks with the Canadian government would lead to a financing agreement, calling federal support “absolutely critical.”

“We are still in discussions with Ottawa and we will continue to work with them and hopefully find a win-win solution,” he said. “There is a lot more runway in front of us with this project and we would definitely welcome a partnership with Canada.”

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