SINGAPORE -- Bombardier's board has authorized the company to offer its 110-130 seat CSeries family aircraft to potential customers.
Top launch customer candidates include Northwest Airlines, Qatar Airways, ILFC and Lufthansa.
The authority to offer is an important step towards official launch of the aircraft program.
FlightBlogger spoke with Bombardier representatives this morning, and at the time the Canadian company refused to speculate on a report suggesting the board was just hours away from making its decision to authorize the company to offer the new family of aircraft.
The company has said it will seek firm commitments from customers before seeking launch approval.
UPDATE 9:44 AM 2/23: Potential launch customer comments (FULL RELEASE):
"Lufthansa's focus is on a sustainable fleet development providing flexibility for the future. This includes, amongst others, the assessment of technology, reliability, environmental footprint, economics and passenger comfort. We are considering the CSeries family of aircraft in our broader evaluation of opportunities for the lower end of the single-aisle fleet because its proposed advantages could be attractive to us," said Nico Buchholz, Senior Vice-President, Corporate Fleet, Lufthansa.
"The CSeries aircraft's 2013 entry into service date suits us very well. We envisage an order for 20 aircraft," said Akbar Al Baker, Chief Executive Officer, Qatar Airways.
"We are very interested in the aircraft and have been looking at the CSeries program very carefully," said Steven F. Udvar-Hazy, Chairman and CEO/Founder of the giant lessor company International Lease Finance Corporation. "ILFC is not only considering buying the aircraft, we could become a co-launch customer. However, other major airlines need to sign up to the program as well. We would like to see a North American, European and possibly Asian customer," he added.