x Abu Dhabi, UAEThursday 27 July 2017

Bombardier hopeful on sales of new jet in Middle East

Bombardier is optimistic that its CSeries jet will find customers in the Middle East as the world’s third-largest aircraft manufacturer begins testing the aircraft.

Ivory Coast's Air Côte d’Ivoire signed a conditional purchase agreement for two Q400 NextGen aircraft with options for two more aircraft. Above, inside the cockpit of a Q400 NextGen. Sarah Dea / The National
Ivory Coast's Air Côte d’Ivoire signed a conditional purchase agreement for two Q400 NextGen aircraft with options for two more aircraft. Above, inside the cockpit of a Q400 NextGen. Sarah Dea / The National

Bombardier hopes its CSeries jet will find customers in the Middle East as the world’s third-largest aircraft manufacturer begins testing the aircraft.

“This is a growing aviation region and has many different needs,” Philippe Poutissou, the Montreal-based firm’s vice president of marketing at its commercial aircraft unit, said yesterday at the Dubai Airshow. “You need big airplanes, you need medium-sized airplanes, and if you want to cover the whole network, you need smaller aircraft.”

The CSeries jet, which made its debut test flight in September, has a maximum seating capacity of 160.

To date, Bombardier has 177 orders for the jet and 403 commitments, including some conditional orders that Bombardier is looking to complete. It has 15 individual customers, including three leasing companies.

Mr Poutissou said his firm would like to secure 300 firm orders, adding that it believed the global demand for the aircraft could reach 6,900 units.

“We could target 50 per cent of that, and our initial ramp-up plan is to produce 120 aircraft a year and we have capability to double that if the market dictates,” he said.

The CSeries jet could serve inter-regional travel in the Middle East and to secondary destinations in eastern Africa, eastern Europe, Russia and the Indian subcontinent, Mr Poutissou said.

“Large airplanes with perishable inventory and empty seats don’t make money,” he added. “You need to have your seats filled, and so for some markets that means having the aircraft of the right size, which we believe we can offer.”

Bombardier said the CSeries jet, compared with other aircraft of its category, would be quieter, cost about 15 per cent less to operate, and reduce fuel usage by 20 per cent.

Separately, Bombardier said Palma Holding had signed a letter of intent to acquire up to eight dual-class Q400 NextGen aircraft. The agreement would cover four firm-ordered aircraft and four options, with a potential contract value of US$282 million, based on list prices.

The national airline of the Ivory Coast, Air Côte d’Ivoire, has also signed a conditional purchase agreement for two Q400 NextGen aircraft with options for two more aircraft. The contract value for two firm-ordered Q400NextGen aircraft is about $69m. If the two options are converted to firm orders, the contract value would increase to $141m, based on list prices.

To date, Bombardier has yet to win major deals in the Arabian Gulf region. Unlike Airbus and Boeing, Bombardier has also yet to make a major imprint in the order books of the region’s big carriers.

But the aircraft maker has increased its staff numbers at its Dubai office in an attempt to boost its regional sales efforts.

Qatar Airways had said it could be interested in the CSeries jet, but that has not materialised into an order.

business@thenational.ae