Bombardier today announced an order for 10 aircraft from an unidentifed European customer for the CSeries. This order is for 10 CS100 models, the smaller of the two variants that will enter service in 2013. This is the eighth customer for the CSeries, three of whom remain unannounced. As Bombardier identified this customer as being from Europe, can we infer that the other two unidentified customers may be from another region?
This brings the firm order book to 123, almost evenly split between the models, with 61 orders for the 110 seat CS100 and 62 orders for the 130 seat CS300. In an interview earlier this week, Guy Hachey, Chief Operating Officer of Bombardier Aerospace, indicated that the company is in advanced discussions with 5-7 additional customers, and that announcements could be soon forthcoming.
Bombardier, with several small orders, has not yet secured a “blockbuster” order such as the large orders for Airbus neo aircraft from IndiGo and AirAsia for 150 and 200 aircraft, respectively. Their strategy has been to secure a broader customer base, with smaller orders, to build the market and ensure residual values for the aircraft through mobility among several operators. While Bombardier hasn’t landed that large order yet, it appears that momentum for CSeries is beginning to build.
The potential to steal business from Boeing at Southwest Airlines was mentioned as “feasible” by Hachey, who indicated that Bombardier has been speaking with Southwest. Southwest may be looking to replace the 717 fleet it will inherit from AirTran, and the CS300 is an ideal sized aircraft for such a replacement. A win at Southwest would certainly put Bombardier on the map. Stay tuned, the aircraft and engine wars are just beginning to heat up in the narrow-body arena. Airbus is a clear winner, Bombardier is gaining ground, Boeing is in a holding pattern, and Embraer is waiting on Boeing. With an announcement from Boeing not expected until year-end or 1Q12, the next six months could generate some interesting orders while Boeing remains silent about the future.