A six-year-old Republic Airways Holdings order for 40 Bombardier CS300 jets remains in the backlog but has been removed from the manufacturer’s long-term production schedule, says Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare.

Republic’s order has been scrutinised for several years, as the CS300s were originally assigned to former subsidiary Frontier Airlines. Republic spun off Frontier three years ago, but kept the CS300 orders. The regional carrier’s ongoing financial restructuring under bankruptcy protection has added further doubts about the CSeries order, as Republic’s legal filings have outlined a plan to organise operations around a fleet of Embraer jets.

The Republic order is still in the backlog but it’s not in the skyline. Right now we’re still working with them,” Bellemare says, speaking at a Wings Club lunch on 19 May.

Concerns about the status of the Republic order became less urgent after a wave of recent CSeries orders and commitments. In February, Air Canada committed to buy 45 CS300s. A month later, AirBaltic agreed to top-up an existing order with seven more CS300s. Finally, Delta Air Lines signed a firm order for 75 CS100s at the end of April in what Bellemare has frequently called a “game-changing” deal for the CSeries programme.

“We have so many aircraft in the backlog right now. If you take a few aircraft out of the backlog, we will still be in a good position,” he says.

Indianapolis-based Republic signed the order for 40 CS300s with 40 options on 25 February 2010, becoming only the third customer for the type.

Bellemare rejected a theory raised at the Wings Club lunch that perhaps the recent Delta order for 75 CS100s effectively replaced the Republic order for 40 CS300s with 40 options. The Delta order includes another 50 options, with the flexibility to convert the orders for 110-seat jets to the larger CS300s.

"I wouldn't say Delta has replaced Republic," Bellemare says.

The CSeries has overcome the technical and financial delays stemming from a 2.5-year delay for entry into the service of the CS100, which is scheduled to fly from Zurich to Paris for launch operator Swiss International Air Lines in July. The first 135-seat CS300 is expected to follow the aircraft into service six months later with AirBaltic.

Source: Cirium Dashboard