FARNBOROUGH: Bombardier offers hints on African CSeries customer

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Bombardier's first African customer for the CSeries, which remains unidentified, is an existing CRJ and Q400 operator.

African airlines that currently operate both types are Rwandair, Nigeria's Arik Air and South Africa's SA Express, Flightglobal's Ascend Fleets database shows.

The unidentified African airline became Bombardier's latest CSeries customer with a letter of intent for five aircraft. Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president Mike Arcamone says the five aircraft could include both the CS100 and CS300. He tells Flightglobal that the airline wishes to remain unidentified to guard its competitive interests.

"It is an existing customer who has our product," he says. Asked if the airline operates the Q400 or the CRJ, Arcamone replied: "Both."

Arik has said previously it was considering an order for the CSeries. In late 2013, it said it could possibly order 13 to 15 aircraft. It operates four CRJ900s, one CRJ1000 and two Q400s among a fleet that includes Airbus widebodies and 737s, and has eight 737-800s and two CRJ1000s on order.

Rwandair operates Boeing 737s along with two CRJ900s, one Q100 and one Q400, Ascend Fleets shows. SA Express has an all-Bombardier fleet, comprising 10 CRJ200s, four CRJ700s and 10 Q400s.

Arcamone says the airline requires "excellent range" for hot and high performance as it expands into new and growing markets.