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Airbus envisions harmonising CSeries with A320

Airbus will look to smooth the boundary between the Bombardier CSeries and its own single-aisle aircraft line in order to create a more harmonised range.

While Airbus states that Its acquisition of a majority share in the CSeries programme gives it a single-aisle line spanning 100-240 seats, it also casts doubt over the future of the A319neo.

Airbus had intended the A319neo to push the new-entrant CSeries out of the 120-seat market by offering continuity with its A320 family and the same benefits of Pratt & Whitney's geared turbofan technology.

But Airbus chief executive Tom Enders acknowledges that the re-engined A319neo has not replicated the success of its predecessor, the A319.

Close to 1,500 A319s have been sold but since 2012, when Airbus took orders for 47, annual sales for the type have rarely broken single figures. Carriers have ordered just 51 A319neos.

"We haven't sold A319s for the last five years," Enders said during a briefing on the CSeries deal on 17 October. "I think that answers that question."

Despite Airbus's previous attempts to dismiss the CSeries as a competitor, Enders says the Bombardier jet is a good aircraft let down by uncertainty over the programme's future.

He says customers have been "hesitant" to order the type. But Airbus, he says, can lend its global sales power to the CSeries and "unlock the full potential" of the twinjet.

"Airbus is uniquely positioned to make all that happen," says Enders. "Our global reach and scale will help us drive commercial competitiveness."

He points out that the CSeries has the capability of capturing a "major chunk" of the demand for some 6,000 aircraft in its sector over the next 20 years.

The acquisition will enable Airbus to concentrate on its higher-capacity single-aisle family while the CSeries will "cover the lower end", says Enders, and offer a "full spectrum" to customers.

But while the two aircraft lines are distinct, he signals that Airbus will aim to bring the two designs closer.

He says there is "strong potential" to develop, "step-by-step", a more harmonised single-aisle range with "higher commonality" – taking advantage of the technology and design incorporated into the CSeries and bringing further cost savings.

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