C Series jet to be rebranded as rival Boeing signs £3.6bn Brazilian tie-up
Boeing has announced a $4.75bn (£3.6bn) partnership with Brazilian manufacturer Embraer in a move seen as a direct challenge to Airbus-Bombardier as it prepares to announce new orders and a new name for the C Series.
Airbus officially took a 50.01% stake in the C Series on July 1, with Bombardier retaining 34%. The aircraft, which is partly-built in Belfast, is expected to be rebranded as the A200 under the Airbus portfolio, with a potential announcement as early as Tuesday.
Speaking during an event on Wednesday at Bombardier's Mirabel plant in Montreal, Airbus chief executive Tom Enders told reporters: "Our top priority is selling the aircraft like crazy."
He said a main aim would be to cut the cost of production for the aircraft. The market for the 100-150 seater planes is expected to see 6,000 models sold in the next 20 years.
Mr Enders also promised Bombardier employees that Airbus will work to make the C Series a big success. "We will fight for every C Series deal, every campaign, and we are good fighters for our Airbus aircraft," he said.
The competition for smaller passenger planes looks set to heat up with the preliminary agreement between Boeing and Embraer, which will eventually see the US aerospace giant own 80% of the joint venture to the South American firm's 20%.
A memorandum of understanding has already been signed, with a deal set to be reached in the coming months. Crucially for the Airbus and Bombardier C Series partnership, the Boeing-Embraer deal will grant Airbus's biggest rival access to Embraer's E-Jet series, extending its reach into the market for 100-seat planes.
"The agreement with Boeing will create the most important strategic partnership in the aerospace industry, strengthening both companies' leadership in the global market," said Embraer chief executive Paulo Cesar de Souza e Silva.
Boeing chairman Dennis Muilenburg said the partnership would generate "significant value" for both companies' customers.