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Airbus to acquire majority share in CSeries programme

Airbus will acquire a majority stake in the Bombardier CSeries programme and open a second final assembly line for CS100s and CS300s in Mobile, Alabama, to serve US customers, the companies announced late on 16 October.

The pending agreement calls for Airbus to acquire a 50.01% interest in the CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership, a joint venture formed between Bombardier and province-owned Investissement Québec, Airbus says. The remaining ownerships will be split between a 31% stake for Bombardier and a 19% interest by Investissement Québec.

The timing and structure of the deal, including the commitment to open a US final assembly line, could help relieve pressure on the CSeries from the US government, which is considering a 300% tariff on Bombardier’s small narrowbody after a preliminary decision by the Commerce Department that the programme receives improper subsidies.

“This is a win-win for everybody,” says Airbus chief executive officer Tom Enders. In addition to securing CSeries-related jobs in Canada, the UK and China, he says, “we also bring new jobs to the US. [And] Airbus will benefit from strengthening its product portfolio in the high-volume single-aisle market, offering superior value to our airline customers worldwide."

The acquisition would give Airbus two products — the CS300 and A319neo — serving the 130-150-seat segment of the single-aisle market. It also extends Airbus’ product portfolio to the 110-seat segment with the CS100.

For Bombardier, the deal, if closed, would end a decade-long quest to challenge the Airbus and Boeing duopoly in the narrowbody sector as a standalone company. It comes after the CSeries overcame a two-year delayed entry into service, only to hit production ramp-up snags and pressure from the US government.

“Airbus is the perfect partner for us, Québec and Canada. Their global scale, strong customer relationships and operational expertise are key ingredients for unleashing the full value of the CSeries,” says Alain Bellemare, chief executive officer of Bombardier.

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