Bombardier says it is confident of securing more Chinese orders for its CSeries aircraft next year, as it gains sales momentum in the country.
The regional jet's transcontinental range, field performance and cabin flexibility "is tailor made to meet the fleet expansion needs of Chinese operators, and is an ideal complement to China's domestic products", a spokeswoman tells Flightglobal Pro.
She adds that the majority of flights in China fly between 110 and 140 passengers, and more than 60% of narrowbody flights leave the gate with between 80 and 130 passengers. The CSeries aircraft is also capable of operating at high altitude, which will allow Chinese operators to serve high-elevation destinations, for which demand is growing.
“With 110 to 160 seats, the CSeries family of aircraft offers the right capacity to drive higher load factors in the Chinese environment,” she says. “We’re quite confident we’ll be in a position to have additional Chinese customers joining the programme next year.”
Bombardier, in October, identified China’s CDB Leasing as a previously undisclosed potential buyer for 15 CSeries aircraft. A conditional purchase agreement, which includes options for another 15 aircraft, has been signed.
In the previous week, the Canadian airframer also announced that it has signed a letter of intent with Chinese company Nantong Tongzhou Bay Aviation Industry for 30 Bombardier Dash 8 Q400s, making the first potential sale of the type to a Chinese operator. The turboprops are to be operated by a new regional carrier called Sutong Airlines, to be based at Nantong in the Jiangsu province.
If firmed, this will be a major breakthrough for Bombardier. Although the airframer previously had three Q400s with Chang'an Airlines, it has not had a turboprop in the country for some years now.
China imposes a 24% import tax on aircraft with below 90 seats, a move that effectively prevents foreign manufacturers from competing in the market.
When asked how Bombardier deals with this disadvantage, the spokeswoman says: “VAT tariffs are present in many countries around the world, this is not limited to Bombardier aircraft nor China. In some cases exceptions are made and we are in discussions with governments [to find common ground and level the playing field].”
She adds that the newly launched high density Q400, which will have 86 seats in a single-class configuration, will also be “absolutely” suited for China as demand for domestic and regional travel in the country accelerates.
Bombardier is also working with Comac to pursue commonality between the C919 and the CSeries family. As part of the collaboration, the duo has set up a joint sales and marketing team to explore regional sales opportunities for the ARJ21 and CRJ, as well as single-aisle sales opportunities for the C919 and CSeries.
The airframer is also active in China. Besides appointing Shenyang Aircraft to build the CSeries fuselage, it is also planning to set up a maintenance facility for commercial and business aircraft in Tianjin by 2016.
There are currently 33 Bombardier commercial aircraft, all of which are CRJs, operating in China. Regional carrier China Express Airlines has a firm order for three CRJ900s.