Posted on June 21, 2011

Bombardier secured a launch customer for its CSeries plane while failing to land a major deal from Qatar Airways after the Gulf carrier shelved an order and said it may buy Airbus SAS’s rival A320neo this week. A “major network carrier” signed a firm contract for 10 CSeries jets and will be the single-aisle model’s first operator, Bombardier said today at the Paris Air Show, adding that the airline has asked not to be identified at present.

Qatar Air has meanwhile “deferred the decision” to buy the Bombardier plane and will “hopefully” announce a commitment for the neo before the end of the Paris event, Chief Executive Officer Akbar al Baker said following a press briefing today.

Bombardier’s appearance at last year’s Farnborough Air Show in the UK, with which the Paris event alternates, was blighted by the failure to land a single CSeries deal after Qatar Air said it couldn’t reach terms with engine supplier Pratt & Whitney. The Montreal-based company said today it doesn’t hoard orders for shows and that it’s continuing to chase contracts.

“We are still in advanced discussions with a couple of handfuls of customers,” spokesman Gary Scott said in Paris, adding that Bombardier is seeking to add orders from as many customers as possible, including smaller ones, in order to create a wider asset base for the new aircraft. “We’re not against large orders” he said. “We are just as happy to have orders for five, 10, 15 aircraft, as well as 30, 40 and 50. You’ll see both.”

The order disclosed today is for 10 CS100 planes worth $616m at list prices, with options for six more, Bombardier said in a statement. Qatar’s Al Baker said his airline put off a decision on the model “for a while until we’ve sorted all the airplanes we have in the pipeline”

The CSeries jet is designed to compete with Boeing Co.’s 737 and the Airbus A320 family in the market for narrow-body planes with 100 to 149 seats. Bombardier earlier this month announced the first orders for the model in more than a year, with 10 contracts from Sweden’s Braathens Leading and three from another unidentified airline. Today’s deal takes the firm-order total to 113 planes and the number of customers to six, the company said.

Airbus expects to have more than 500 orders for the 320neo by the end of the Paris show, reaching the milestone about seven months after deciding to re-engine the jet. Boeing, based in Chicago, is still mulling whether to upgrade the 737, the most widely flow plane, or offer a new single-aisle model for the largest slice of the commercial-aircraft industry.

Scandinavian carrier SAS Group placed on order for 30 A320neo aircraft today at the show, with an option for 11 more. Stockholm-based SAS said in November it was also weighing the CSeries and 737 as part of its considerations. AirAsia, Asia’s biggest budget airline, expects to finalize an agreement to buy as many as 200 A320neos worth $18bn at list price by late tomorrow, Kamarudin Meranun, group deputy chief executive officer, said in an interview in Malaysia.


source: Arabian Business