Lion Air confirms plan to place CS300 order in months

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(Updated with comments from company spokesman)

Indonesian low-cost carrier Lion Air aims to finalise an order for the Bombardier CSeries by end-2013, and expects to meet the airframer next month to work out the details.

The carrier is keen on the CS300, the largest variant in the CSeries family. Lion Air's chief executive Rusdi Kirana tells Flightglobal that the number of CS300s it will order will be in the double-digit range, and deliveries could occur as early as 2016.

"The aircraft is suited for our operations," Lion Air's chief executive Rusdi Kirana tells Flightglobal on the sidelines of the 38th ICAO general assembly in Montreal. "It looks good, and we like what we saw."

Kirana visited Bombardier's facilities near Montreal yesterday and spent two hours learning about the CSeries, he says. He expects Bombardier executives to visit Lion Air in Jakarta in mid-October. "We are trying to close it by year-end," he says, adding that the airline is eyeing a firm order and not a letter of intent.

Kirana says it is too early to say which routes the CS300s will be operated on, adding that the airline needs time to study potential markets.

A company spokesman contacted by Flightglobal, however, had this to say: "We are interested to operate the CS300 on long thin routes both domestically in Indonesia and internationally. We see that the size of the CSeries could be useful. Presently we operate 72-seat ATR 72s and 189-seat 737-800s and 215-seat 737-900ERs, so for us the CSeries fills a gap between the ATR 72 and the 737-800."

Lion Air has made headlines in the past with massive orders for Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies. In March, it placed an order for 234 Airbus narrowbodies, comprising current generation A320s and the re-engined A320neo family. In February 2012, it firmed up an order for 201 Boeing 737 Max aircraft.

Kirana, however, indicates that Lion Air does not plan to place an equally sizable order for the CS300, adding that it will likely be in the double-digit range.

The baseline version of the CSeries family, the CS100, conducted its first flight on 16 September. An order from Lion Air would help boost Bombardier's orderbook for the new jet, which has netted only 177 firm orders so far. Of these, 114 are for the CS300, Flightglobal's Ascend Online database shows.

Lion Air operates 90 737s and two Boeing 747s and holds more than 400 orders for the 737 Max, A320 and A320neo family aircraft. Kirana says the airline plans to replace its 747s, which were built in 1989, with Boeing 777s.

The airline had also previously placed orders for five Boeing 787-8s for Malindo Air, its joint venture with Malaysia's National Aerospace and Defense Industries.