Northwest is big CSeries hope

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Flight International online news 09:30GMT: Bombardier has confirmed it is in talks with Northwest Airlines to launch the 110- to 130-seat CSeries, although financial problems at the bankrupt carrier have caused the Canadian manufacturer to delay a board decision on the aircraft’s launch.

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The lack of a launch customer has hindered Bombardier’s plans since it revealed the CSeries program last year, and is a requirement for hundreds of millions of dollars in British and Canadian Government grants and the development of a new centerline engine by Pratt and Whitney Canada (P&WC).

That could now change. A Bombardier spokesman tells Air Transport Intelligence: “I can confirm that we are in talks with Northwest Airlines to purchase the CSeries. There is no guarantee, but Northwest is a potential customer.”

Northwest also confirms that it is in negotiations with the Canadian manufacturer to launch the proposed aircraft. P&WC was not available for comment.

It is no surprise that Northwest would consider the CSeries, as the US carrier is reliant on an aging fleet of 148 McDonnell Douglas DC-9s for much of its domestic schedule. Many of these aircraft seat between 100 and 125 passengers, almost mirroring the configuration for Bombardier’s planned family of four aircraft.

However, this is the first time the manufacturer has mentioned a potential launch customer by name, although it has already confirmed that Turkish startup carrier Izmir Hava Yollari can convert five CRJ900 options to the CSeries.

Northwest’s recent bankruptcy, however, is causing enough difficulties for Bombardier to reschedule an October board meeting on the CSeries’ launch until November. In a statement on Friday, the manufacturer said: “Today, Bombardier’s board of directors received a CSeries project review from Bombardier Aerospace. The review included a market update, a report on customer and supplier discussions as well as the status of the overall business plan.”

It adds: “The CSeries project evaluation continues. The project will again be reviewed at the next board update scheduled for late November.”

Bombardier’s spokesman says the delay was required because “some of our customers are facing financial difficulties under bankruptcy protection”, and that some delays are inevitable.

He adds that the company’s market forecasts and efficiency projections for the CSeries have not changed. He would not comment on the progress of Bombardier’s negotiations with suppliers.

DARREN SHANNON/WASHINGTON