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Industry looking at possibility of CSeries order at Chinese air show

Oct. 27, 2010, Montreal - Bombardier's quest for new orders for its CSeries aircraft could come to fruition next month at an air show in China, say industry observers.


October 27, 2010
By The Canadian Press

The Montreal-based manufacturer failed to meet analyst expectations in July by leaving Britain's Farnborough International Airshow empty-handed.

But a possible order for the 110- to 149-seat plane at the Nov. 16-21 Zhuhai Air Show could be another catalyst for Bombardier's shares, says Joseph Nadol of J.P. Morgan.

Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin recently told an investors meeting that its CSeries campaigns were going well.

The company was comfortable with its current order book for 90 planes, with options for 90 more, given that delivery of the first plane was 40 months away, he said.

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About 70 per cent of the interest from customers has been the larger version of the aircraft, which is expected to be delivered late in 2014.

Following the meeting, Turan Quettawala of Scotia Capital wrote that the possibility of a new order would be a catalyst for Bombardier.

Among those looking at the plane is American Airlines. Chief executive Gerard Arpey said during a conference call last week that the CSeries is "definitely worth considering'' as the carrier assesses its growth plans over the next decade.

But he added that training requirements in the U.S. carrier's current labour agreements make it more difficult to introduce new fleet types.

Any decision about new aircraft depends on discussions with pilots, but Arpey said aspects of the CSeries could "be of interest to us and our pilots.''

Potential aircraft customers were said to be reluctant to purchase the CSeries in the summer until they had a clearer idea on whether Boeing and Airbus would put new engines on their narrow-body planes.

Boeing has signalled that it is unlikely to do so, as it will likely instead focus on introducing a new or improved 777. And Airbus' decision slated for year end could still be delayed, Nadol wrote in a report.

"We still could see this going either way, though we believe the market has been overestimating the likelihood of Airbus moving forward.''

He said the key sticking point, which Airbus CEO Tom Enders recently emphasized, was concern about managing another development program amid competing demands for resources.

Re-engining its A320 would come as Airbus is focused on developing the A350.