Bombardier is a global transportation company, headquartered in Montréal, Canada. It is present in more than 60 countries on five continents and is active in Aerospace (commercial and business jets) and Rail transportation equipment, systems and services.
Bombardier Aerospace ranks as the world’s third largest civil aircraft manufacturer. Its aircraft range includes:
- Business aircraft - Learjet, Challenger and Global aircraft families;
- Commercial aircraft - new CSeries program, CRJ Series and Q-Series aircraft families;
- Amphibious aircraft - Bombardier 415 and Bombardier 415 MP aircraft;
- Jet travel solutions - Flexjet;
- Specialised aircraft solutions - Bombardier aircraft modified for special missions;
- Aircraft services and training - aircraft parts, maintenance, comprehensive training, technical support and publications, and online services.
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The surprise visit from AirAsia Group CEO Tony Fernandes to Bombardier's CSeries mockup at the Jul-2012 Farnborough Airshow was seen more as a negotiating tactic with Airbus as the Group has a need to take A320s at a faster pace than it committed to when ordering 200 additional aircraft last year. AirAsia is now reportedly close to ordering another 100 A320s, possibly as early as this week’s Berlin Air Show.
But even with a CSeries order looking unlikely for now, the interest Mr Fernandes expressed in the new model during Farnborough should still be viewed as serious. The time may be soon when AirAsia's fleet needs are so large and Airbus' backlog full that it would be appropriate to end exclusivity. There is a need at AirAsia for a smaller aircraft type and the efficiencies of the CSeries – or another type – could outweigh the advantage of keeping a simplified fleet.
Latvian national airline airBaltic is set to become an all Bombardier operator following its decision to replace its aging 737 fleet with Bombardier’s CSeries as it forges ahead with a restructuring plan to return to profitability. airBaltic has signed a letter of intent (LOI) to acquire 10 CS300 jetliners and take purchase rights on a further 10 CS300s with the first of the new aircraft scheduled to arrive at the airline’s base in Riga in 4Q2015.
An airBaltic spokesperson told CAPA that the company aims to sign a firm agreement with Bombardier “shortly” and that pre-delivery payments will come from the company’s own cash flow. airBaltic Corp’s supervisory board, which includes members of its primary shareholder, the Latvian state (which has owned 99.8% of the company’s shares since the end of 2011), has endorsed the CSeries order.
Altasjet has become Bombardier’s 10th CSeries customer, announcing a Letter of Intent (LoI) for 10 of the larger CS300 variant at this week’s Dubai Airshow. The announcement is another fillip for Bombardier’s CSeries sales campaign and a strong order from the relatively small Turkish regional carrier. The LoI also includes options for five more CSeries aircraft. The LoI is expected to be firmed up within the next two months.
The LoI is Bombardier’s first sales success for the CSeries in Eastern Europe. Bombardier has been pursuing sales among European regional carriers, but the economic climate in Europe has not been conducive to aircraft orders. Slowness in the US economy has also had an affect on regional jet ordering. As a result, more than 50% of CSeries orders have been placed by airlines outside of North America and Western Europe.
It has been an exceptionally busy year for aircraft manufacturers. Boeing delivered its first B787 and B747-8F and launched the B737 MAX, setting its narrowbody strategy for the next decade at least. Airbus went ahead with the A320neo late in 2010 and has been amply rewarded with an avalanche of orders, but has been forced to delay the A350 XWB.
Of the smaller manufacturers, Bombardier is plugging away doggedly with CSeries, trying to break the Airbus/Boeing monopoly. Embraer has just announced that it will stick with the regional jet market, offering a re-engined version of its existing E-jets family instead of venturing into the intensely competitive narrowbody market. Coming soon are COMAC's C919 and Irkut's MS-21.
The old regional airline, capacity-purchase model is well and truly broken and airlines must evolve to find a more profitable model, Dahlman Rose analyst Helane Becker said in her latest briefing in a harsh evaluation of the sector based on losses and current efforts to restructure.
Regionals have been evolving, expanding capacity purchase portfolios or acquiring branded operations such as Republic’s acquisition of Midwest and Frontier to form Frontier Airlines. Even so, that doesn’t seem enough simply because they are still so many aircraft in a vastly shrinking regional airline system.
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