Bombardier’s CSeries offers ‘unparalleled’ passenger experience. So why hasn’t it taken off?
Bombardier has said it is pushing hard in Europe, Africa and the Middle East, as well as in China
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The Star: By SAMANTHA BEATTIE Staff Reporter
Bombardier has a solution to airplane passenger woes.
On its spacious, fuel-efficient CSeries airplane, everyone can bring a carry-on. Plus, seats are wide, the cabin is quiet, and windows and washrooms are large.
But, as Bombardier has learned, that hasn't been enough for a quick takeoff or soaring sales.
Bombardier initially aimed to have 300 firm orders by the time it was certified for commercial service in early 2016, but it wasn't until earlier this year that it surpassed its goal, with 360 orders reported in June.
However, 75 of those were from Delta Air Lines, an order that was thrown into doubt last week, when the U.S. Department of Commerce announced it was imposing a preliminary tariff of 220 per cent on the CSeries. The ruling was a result of a complaint made by U.S.-based Boeing, which claimed the CSeries was being sold to Delta at abnormally low prices because of government subsidies.
Adding to Bombardier's woes, the World Trade Organization on Friday announced it would review CSeries subsidies at the request of Brazilian airplane manufacturer Embraer.
In fact, airlines in Canada and the U.S. have yet to add one the CSeries planes — the CS100 and the larger CS300 — to their fleets.
While Air Canada has a firm order for 45 of the planes, with delivery scheduled by 2022, only two airlines currently fly the vehicle. Between Swiss International Air Lines and Latvia's airBaltic, there are a total of 18 CSeries in service.
The CSeries airplane program, which at one point was two years behind schedule and plagued by cost overruns, cost Bombardier $5.4 billion (U.S.) over eight years. In 2015, the Quebec government stepped in with a $1 billion cash injection for an equity stake in the CSeries, around the same time Bombardier wrote off $3.2 billion in development costs it didn't expect to recoup.
This year, the federal government committed $372.5 million in interest-free loans to Bombardier.
Bombardier estimates it will not start generating cash flow from the CSeries until around 2020, but remains adamant it's on to something that will change the aviation industry for the better.
"The CSeries is the first single-aisle aircraft to be built from scratch in the last 30 years," said Bombardier spokesperson Nathalie Siphengphet. "We understand the industry and airlines make decisions about their fleet with a long-term view."
In terms of competition, Airbus and Boeing offer single-aisle planes, but Bombardier maintains they're not "direct competitors." Unlike the CSeries, Airbus and Boeing's planes were first developed as larger jets, then "stretched or shrunken" to accommodate up to 150 passengers, and are therefore less efficient, Siphengphet said.
"The CSeries is the only airplane designed specifically for ...
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