Chances for Air Canada CSeries order "very good": Analyst

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Bombardier has a “very good” chance at winning a 25-aircraft CSeries order from Air Canada in the next few months to replace a portion of its Embraer 190 regional jet fleet, says RBC Capital Markets analyst Walter Spracklin.

“I believe an announcement will be made in the next six months,” he tells Flightglobal.

The Montreal-based carrier announced on 12 December that it would be replacing its Airbus A320 fleet with the Boeing 737 Max, and noted that it was still considering options for replacing its 45 E-190s—the smallest aircraft type in its mainline fleet at 97 seats.

As part of the Max deal, Boeing has agreed to purchase “up to 20” of Air Canada’s 45 E-190s and the carrier has said it would consider leasing narrowbodies for those aircraft until Max deliveries start.

Air Canada says that the remaining 25 E-190 jets would continue operations or be replaced with a “yet to be determined number of aircraft in the 100 to 150 seat range.” The 110-seat CS100 now undergoing flight tests would fit that profile.

Embraer's re-engined E-190 E2 with up to 106 seats is set to hit the market in 2018 and could also be in the running. However, Spracklin believes the E2 is an unlikely candidate for replacement.

The carrier has not explicitly stated that the 737 Max would replace part of its E-190 fleet, but Spracklin says it is likely that the 20 aircraft earmarked for purchase by Boeing will be replaced by the Max rather than with Airbus aircraft after any temporary lease agreements end.

The carrier’s CSeries order would therefore likely be comprised of 25 orders with 20 options, says Spracklin, giving the airline the ability to choose the CSeries or 737 Max 7 as a replacement once deliveries from Boeing begin in 2017.

The 737 Max 7 typically holds 126 passengers in a dual-class layout. Air Canada's A320-200s in operation today carries 146 passengers in two classes.

Air Canada will begin receiving the order for 33 firm 737 Max 8 and 28 737 Max 9 aircraft between 2017 and 2021. The deal also includes 18 options, purchase rights for 30 aircraft and rights to swap the Max 8 and Max 9 deliveries for each other or for the Max 7 variant.