Bombardier Inc. is continuing talks with Air Canada about a possible order for the CSeries jet, the new model struggling with development delays, as the carrier nears its target for a decision on buying new planes.
Air Canada, whose mainline fleet now includes Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS aircraft, “will have to decide how many manufacturers they want to have,” Bombardier Commercial Aircraft President Mike Arcamone said yesterday in an interview at the company’s aerospace facility in Mirabel, Quebec.
The airline is studying options to replace 86 narrow-body jets from Airbus’s A320 family and 45 of Embraer SA’s smaller E190s. Chief Executive Officer Calin Rovinescu said in October he wanted to order planes by year’s end and was weighing models from Airbus, Boeing, Embraer and Montreal-based Bombardier. He has said he’s open to purchasing from multiple planemakers.
“The feeling out there is that Air Canada is a home-team customer,” David Tyerman, a Canaccord Genuity analyst in Toronto with a buy rating on Bombardier, said in a telephone interview. While he said he expects the plane to succeed, some investors are poised to conclude that “if you can’t even sell it to the home team, the jet is going to fail.”
A CSeries order from Canada’s largest airline would be a boost for Montreal-based Bombardier after the plane’s first flight ran more than eight months late, bad weather slowed certification trials and costs for the program rose to $3.9 billion, 15 percent more than projected.
Arcamone declined to say when he expects Air Canada to place its narrow-body order, saying it’s up to the airline to decide. Isabelle Arthur, a spokeswoman for Montreal-based Air Canada, declined to comment in an e-mail.
Some carriers such as Delta Air Lines Inc. have said they prefer using more than one manufacturer to widen their options when buying planes. Others have sought uniformity to curb costs. The CSeries seats as many as 160 people, compared with 150 to 180 for A320-type aircraft and 96 to 114 seats for the E190s.
Bombardier is still 118 orders short of a target for 300 firm orders of the CSeries by the time the aircraft enters service next year.
The company is engaged in several CSeries sales campaigns in China, said Arcamone, who returned from a trip to the Asian country last week. Bombardier’s October agreement with China’s CDB Leasing Co. for as many as 30 CSeries aircraft may prompt fresh purchases by customers there, he said.
“That’s a very positive deal for us,” Arcamone said of the CDB Leasing accord. “They have government authorization to exercise 15 options, and we have several discussions with many airlines on the CSeries. So I’m very bullish we will be penetrating China, because China requires that type of aircraft. China is a very big push of mine.”
Arcamone said he remains confident American Airlines Group Inc. will buy regional jets from Bombardier in the next few months. American -- formed Dec. 9 when AMR Corp. and US Airways Group Inc. combined -- may order at least 70 aircraft, including options, Bombardier executives have said.
“We’re waiting for American to let us know their final decision but we’re very optimistic,” Arcamone said.