Bombardier Gets $1.44 Billion CSeries Order

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It would be hard to imagine a worse time to be launching a new airliner but Bombardier is forging ahead with its new CSeries single-aisle airplanes and winning new orders that might otherwise have gone to Boeing or Airbus. The company announced a $1.44 billion deal with Lease Corporation International (LCI) on Monday for three of the 110-seat models and 17 of the 130-seat variants and options for 20 more. Earlier this month, Lufthansa committed to 30 CSeries aircraft, with options for 30. LCI represents 20 airlines in Europe and Asia and did not say where the aircraft might end up, but LCI spokesman Tasos Michael told the Montreal Gazette the CSeries offers a combination of technological advancement (launch customer for Pratt and Whitney Canada's geared turbofan engine) and a sweet spot in the market for cabin size. "There are good deals from everybody at the moment. We went with Bombardier," he told the Gazette.

The CSeries was first proposed almost a decade ago and shelved a few years ago before being formally resurrected at last year's Farnborough Air Show. The tipping point seemed to be the geared turbofan, which may improve efficiency by as much as 15 percent, a major consideration for any airliner but especially poignant on the short- and medium-haul routes that its chief competitors, the Boeing 737 and Airbus A319 and A320, serve. "If it does everything it says on the box, it will be great for airlines," Michael said. Analysts say LCI's order is speculative and could be deferred if its own customers don't bite. "Yes, our order is speculative," Michael told the Gazette. "But I don't think the risks are very weighty. There are not many narrow-body aircraft in the market, and the potential is huge." Teal Group VP Richard Aboulafia told the Gazette Michael might be right. "[Bombardier] may well have tapped into an underserved market," he said.