Belfast Telegraph

Bombardier confident of more orders as its C Series takes off

By Margaret Canning

Canadian aerospace giant Bombardier has said orders for its C Series will mount up in the second half of the year as its new jet prepares for its first commercial flight tomorrow.

The narrow-bodied C Series - the wings of which are made in Belfast - attracted an order for 125 units from US airline Delta in April.

Tomorrow its first customer Swiss Air will fly the C Series 100 from Zurich to Paris on the craft's first commercial flight.

AirBaltic will be the first to fly the bigger C Series, the C Series 300, later this year.

At industry showcase Farnborough Air Show, Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said he believed more orders would come in over the last six months of the year.

"Let's target the back half of the year and I think we'll be very successful," he said.

He added "dozens" of airlines had been to see the aircraft, which Bombardier has put on display at Farnborough.

Mr Cromer told Reuters: "We've got lots of interest coming out of Europe and we also have a lot of interest in Asia.

"The conversations are going very well."

And he said he did not think the vote to leave the EU had caused any nerves among potential buyers. "The European carriers we're talking to still feel like the passenger demand is going to be there," he added.

The air show, which continues until Sunday, is usually a platform for airlines to unveil big orders from manufacturers.

While there had been no indication of fresh orders for Bombardier at the show, Craig West, the editor of industry magazine Airliner World, said the mood surrounding the C Series at Farnborough was "positive".

"Bombardier are very confident and buoyant," he said.

And he said he felt the entry into service of the C Series 100 - and news on Monday that the bigger C Series 300 had received certification - had lifted industry perceptions of the jet.

It's been a massive project for Bombardier to launch a narrow-bodied passenger jet in a market dominated by Boeing and Airbus. Its launch was delayed by two years and it's gone over-budget by $2bn.

Mr West said: "We first saw it at its launch at the Paris Airshow last year, and over the course of 12 months it has attracted orders.

"They are now confident that once it enters service, the orders will come to pass."

Short-haul airlines were openly discussing the need to renew their fleets, he said. "Swiss Air has been the first to take the plunge, and between Swiss Air's order for the CS 100 and airBaltic's order for the CS 300, there will be 15 C Series in service by the end of this year.

"You tend to see that airlines will sit and wait to see what other airlines' experience is like, and any teething problems, before they make orders themselves."

At Farnborough this week Virgin Atlantic said it will order 12 Airbus A350-1000 aircraft - with parts made by Denroy Plastics in Bangor. Denroy is among five Northern Ireland aerospace companies who this week announced they were joining forces in a new entity called Causeway Aero to give them a better chance at big contracts.

Belfast Telegraph