Monarch Airlines chief executive Iain Rawlinson says the carrier’s fleet renewal programme is a "three-horse race", with an order for 20 Bombardier CSeries airliners a distinct possibility.
The UK leisure group could assign up to a third of its planned 60-aircraft order to the CS300 as part of a mixed package, most likely alongside the Boeing 737 Max or the Airbus A320neo or A321neo, says Rawlinson.
"How it [the CSeries] performs now in its testing phase is critical for us," he says. "Whether the manufacturer has moved forward far enough in its tests by the time we come to complete the order will be crucial."
Monarch has pushed back the date for closing the order – which has a potential list-price value of $6 billion – until the first quarter of 2014, having originally intended to make a decision before the end of 2013.
"We are a few inches closer but not to the point of making a decision, so we are evaluating the offers we have got in terms of technical specifications and the financial terms – that is ongoing – and we were originally expecting to make an announcement in this quarter," says Rawlinson.
"Almost inevitably, this has taken a bit longer than we expected, but that will come to a head in the first quarter of next year. Why? Because we would want to have the effect of that decision being seen in the market from summer 2015 onwards... Given the long lead times, we don’t want to wait."
Rawlinson says the financing of the order is "yet to be finalised", but adds that shareholders are supportive of the move.