Bombardier Inc. (BBD/B)’s new CSeries plane, six months behind in its development, gained a vote of confidence after an airline signed a letter of intent to buy as many as 30 of the single-aisle jets.
The customer is based in the Americas and otherwise doesn’t want to be identified, Montreal-based Bombardier said today in a statement. The carrier plans to order 12 of the smaller CS100 models, which have a list value of about $870 million, and has options to buy 18 more jets, Bombardier said.
An agreement with a prospective operator is a boost for Bombardier. The model’s maiden flight was delayed last month to June after unspecified issues with suppliers, and analysts including National Bank Financial’s Cameron Doerksen in Montreal had said orders would be scarce until the jet flew because the postponement raised credibility questions about the plane.
Assembly of the first flight-test aircraft is progressing smoothly and the wings are being joined to the fuselage at the company’s factory in Mirabel, Quebec, Bombardier said.
The widely traded Class B shares rose 0.6 percent to C$3.57 in Toronto. The shares closed at their highest level since Nov. 6, the day before Bombardier disclosed the CSeries delay.
Bombardier had booked 138 firm orders and 214 commitments through Sept. 30 for the CSeries, which will break the duopoly shared by Airbus SAS and Boeing Co. (BA) when it enters service in 2014.
Today’s planned order would be in keeping with the pattern of CSeries purchases in smaller batches than those for Airbus’s A320 and Boeing’s 737. The larger companies’ single-aisle models have routinely sold by the dozens or even hundreds of aircraft at a time. Republic Airways Holdings Inc. (RJET) is the biggest buyer of the new Bombardier plane, with an order for 40.
The CSeries will feature composite materials and a fuel- efficient engine from United Technologies Corp. (UTX)’s Pratt & Whitney. The CS100 version will seat as many as 125 passengers, and the CS300 will handle as many as 145.
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