Dassault was only company to propose long-range aircraft to replace ageing machines

Poland has withdrawn a tender for four government VIP aircraft after only France's Dassault Aviation put in a bid by the deadline of 25 August. Polish law requires at least two bidders to validate a call for tender.

Dassault was the only company to answer Warsaw's call for four long-range aircraft, down from an original six, to replace the Soviet-era aircraft that government members use for official travel.

Prime Minister Leszsek Miller's office says Canada's Bombardier and US company Gulfstream "were also interested in the Polish contract, but did not take part in the tender".

Gulfstream declines to comment on why it chose not to bid.

Bombardier says it decided in early August to pull out of the tendering process "because the final specification was for a three-engined aircraft". The Canadian company, which planned to offer its twin-engined Challenger 604, does not produce any three-engined models.

"We certainly think we have the right aircraft for the Polish government's mission requirements," says Bombardier, adding that the three-engine requirement is "pretty unjustified" given that the Challenger 604 already serves as the VIP aircraft for several heads of state and governments in Europe and elsewhere.

Dassault agrees the final specifications were "very precise" and notes Warsaw is not interested in aircraft "under development" because it needs its aircraft next year. Dassault's bid was based on the offer of Falcon 900s. It says it does not know what the Polish government will do next, but adds that "there is an urgent need for them to change their VIP aircraft which are old and dangerous".

Dassault lost a Polish tender for 48 combat aircraft to Lockheed Martin in 2001 following what some observers considered to be a political decision by the Polish government. "Politics does not usually play such an important role in business jets," Dassault says.

Source: Flight International