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Bombardier says Airbus decision is not a threat to CSeries

Dec. 1, 2010, Montreal - Bombardier says European company Airbus's decision to put new fuel-efficient engines on its A320 family of narrowbody aircraft doesn't pose a big threat to the Canadian aircraft maker's
CSeries planes.


December 1, 2010
By The Canadian Press

The Montreal-based plane and train manufacturer said it always planned for a competitive response to its 110- to 149-seat aircraft and that what Airbus is offering is less than what it had provisioned for.

Ben Boehm, vice-president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said Bombardier was ready for a completely new competitive aircraft design.

"This is purely a bit of a makeover of an old plane so we're not worried about it at all,'' he said in an interview.

Instead, Europe's Airbus plans to spend US$1.3 billion to develop new engine options for its A320 NEO single-aisle plane.

Customers will have a choice of either the CFM International's LEAP-X engine and Pratt & Whitney's PurePower PW1100G unit, similar to what will power the CSeries.

Airbus's decision to offer the Pratt engine is a great endorsement of the CSeries offering that customers can have two years before it is available on the Airbus in 2016.

Boehm said Airbus is really going after Boeing, whose 737s offer better fuel savings.

"It's targeted straight at Boeing. The Boeing planes  have always been more fuel efficient than the Airbuses and now they're going after it.''

Aerospace analysts agreed that while Airbus may win some orders with the A320 NEO, the plane is "not a CSeries killer.''

Cameron Doerksen of National Bank Financial said the CSeries still have an operating cost advantage.

Airbus is promising a 15 per cent improved fuel burn but Bombardier is offering a 15 per cent improvement in total cash operating costs, partly from 20 per cent better fuel efficiency.

The Airbus plane is heavier, was designed in the late 1980s and will come with a $6 million premium that will wipe away much of the operating cost savings, Doerksen added.

"Bombardier always anticipated new competition from Airbus and Boeing so in our view Airbus's announcement does not alter the business case for the CSeries,'' he wrote.