Belfast Telegraph

Gulf Air denies cancelling order for 10 A220 planes

By Ryan McAleer

The chief executive of Gulf Air has denied that an order for 10 A220 aircraft has been cancelled.

Kresimir Kucko made the comments at the Farnborough Airshow this week, where the rebranded C Series jet was placed on show by its new majority owner Airbus.

The European aerospace giant took a 50.01% stake in the Bombardier C Series on July 1, renaming the plane the A220.

The Canadian company, which employs around 4,000 people in Belfast, still owns 34%. The wings for the jet will continue to be made here, with around 1,000 people directly linked to the project. Airbus has confirmed 120 orders for A220-300s since taking its stake. US airline JetBlue is buying 60, while a new American carrier has also placed an order for 60.

It brings to 522 the number of jets ordered since 2009, with 38 delivered to date.

Prior to this week's international air show in Hampshire, various reports suggested that the Bahrain airline was pulling out of its 2012 commitment for 10 of the smaller A220-100 jets (previously CS100).

Quotes attributed to Mr Kucko had suggested that the airline was no longer proceeding with the order.

But speaking to online aviation outlet Flight Global at Farnborough, the chief executive appeared to roll back, stating the order was still "in place" and "certainly not cancelled".

However, he said that the order is subject to "certain agreements" being reached with the manufacturer, adding that it remains a "sensitive issue".

The comments have fuelled speculation that the carrier may be seeking to negotiate better terms with Airbus. It follows an assessment last week by credit rater Moody's that JetBlue enjoyed a significant discount on its order for A220-300s. Both Airbus and the airline have declined to comment.

Economist John Simpson said such reports were "not helpful" in terms of building confidence in the attractiveness of the A220 in world markets.

"This is also a further piece of commercial pressure on suppliers, such as Bombardier, to reduce costs," he said.

Belfast Telegraph

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