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AIRSHOW CHINA: Bombardier aims high for CSeries in China

Bombardier brought its CS300 aircraft to Airshow China in Zhuhai for one reason only – to show potential Chinese customers that the aircraft is real and flying.

“Bringing it here says 'hey we’re here, it’s real, we’re in service, we’re certified.' In Europe we’re still running some flight tests for the CS300 but it’s almost done. We’ll deliver the jet to Air Baltic in the coming weeks,” Bombardier’s vice-president of sales in China and Asia-Pacific Andy Solem tells FlightGlobal. One of the manufacturer’s two flight test aircraft for the CS300 programme is on static display at the show for two days.

Solem says the target is for Bombardier to deliver its first CSeries into China in 2018. Proposals are on the table with several Chinese operators, including the big four airlines – Air China, China Eastern Airlines, China Southern Airlines and Hainan Airlines.

The sales executive also sees more opportunities with start-up carriers, following China’s recent move to lay out criteria that new carriers must fulfil before they can operate larger aircraft and into main airports.

“This is very much in support of regional aviation, so it’s great for us. This gives us a lot of opportunities because a lot of these start-ups were focusing on narrowbodies and now they’re looking at regional jets. I’ll say we’ve had a flood of requests for data on the CRJs, Q400 and Cseries.”

Asked whether the 110-150 CSeries is considered too large for start-ups under the new regulations, Solem says the jet should be within the size range, although the regulator will look at the situation on a case-by-case basis.

On whether Bombardier is in talks with Chinese investors regarding the CSeries, he would only say: “We try and decide who our best partners can be, how we can advance our position in the market, and we’re always in talks with different parties to see how we can cooperate better.”

Bombardier holds a letter of intent with Loong Air for 20 CS100s and CDB Leasing has a conditional agreement to buy 15 CSeries aircraft, with options for 15 more. Neither deal, however, has been firmed. Its only Asian firm order for the CSeries is from Korean Air for 10 CS300s, the first of which is scheduled to be delivered in the fourth quarter of 2017.

“We had some programme delays, but we’re through that. It’s hard to sell airplanes when you don’t have anything to delivery, but now we do. This is what makes a difference… when you can show the machine, the machine sells itself," says Solem.

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