Bombardier Execs Dispel Learjet China Rumor

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Top executives with Bombardier are actively dispelling predictions the company will hive off its struggling Learjet division to Chinese interests and concentrate on its highly profitable line of large-cabin business jets. In an interview with the Montreal Gazette, the newspaper says Bombardier Aerospace President Guy Hachey and Steve Ridolfi, president of the business jet division, both "swatted away" what it called the "recurring rumor" that the Wichita operations were on the block. In fact, Ridolfi said he expected expansion at the Wichita plant as the composite Learjet 85 goes into production. "The 85 is the largest and most capable Learjet ever built and it will change the face of Learjet just on that basis," Ridolfi said. There are about 2,000 employees in Wichita. Meanwhile, fresh from more than $1 billion in bizjet orders from the Paris Air Show, Bombardier remains bullish on the future of its most expensive products.

The company sold a total of 16 Global 7000 and Global 8000 large-cabin, long-range bizjets that are an evolution of its already popular Global series. The first of the new aircraft, which were announced last October in the face of challenges from Gulfstream and Embraer in particular, won't be delivered until 2017 but continue to be among the company's most attractive products. "We expect the large-cabin segment to stay red hot," he said.