PARIS: Despite failing to agree a potential tie-up with Airbus, Canadian planemaker Bombardier insists it can make its bet on entering the lucrative medium-range passenger jet market a winner, while also leaving the door open to possible future alliances.
“Bombardier is fully committed to the CSeries and we have the financial resources in place to support the program,” spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera said regarding the 100- to 150-seat aircraft now nearing certification, shrugging off not being able to sell Airbus a majority stake in the project.
But the company’s confidence is set against analyst concerns about Bombardier’s ability to survive the financial stress of bringing the first all-new medium-range passenger jet in 25 years to market as the development costs of the CSeries have doubled to $5.4 billion.
There are concerns over Bombardier’s capacity to absorb that cost, and the cost of the two-year delay in entering into commercial service of the CSeries planes, which should carry their first passengers for Lufthansa subsidiary Swiss in the middle of next year.
Certification is expected by year’s end, but the commercial challenge ahead appears sizeable.
“On paper, Bombardier has the ability to worry its rivals,” aeronautics specialist Philip Moine told AFP.
“It is the only wholly new medium-haul carrier with better announced performances than re-engined versions” of single aisle rivals, said Moine.
After Boeing’s delays bringing the all-new long-haul 787 Dreamliner to market, both the US planemaker and its European rival Airbus opted not to completely redesign their single-aisle medium-range aircraft, which account for the lion’s share of sales and are the workhorses of the aviation market.
Instead they opted to offer new engines and make aerodynamic enhancements on the 737 and A320 aircraft that should nearly match the 20 percent fuel savings that Bombardier is promising with the CSeries.
The CSeries, Bombardier’s first foray outside business and regional passenger aircraft into the medium-range jets, also promises reduced emissions and noise, and has a cabin which offers more space, bigger windows and storage.
The problem, Moine noted, is that the development cost overruns and delays have pushed up the break even point for Bombardier from 300 to 800 aircraft.
The Canadian group has only 243 firm orders and 360 letters of intent at this point, but believes once the CSeries receives certification and enters commercial service more will follow.
As Bombardier sees it, the bet on the CSeries has good odds of paying off as the demand for single aisle jets with 100 to 150 seats is expected to range from 4,000 to 5,000 globally through to 2034.
A source close to the Airbus discussions said that far from an attempt to clutch at straws those talks were a serious management tilt at rationalization.
“Of course Bombardier has the means to deliver on the CSeries program,” the source told AFP.