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Bombardier banks on bigger jets

Canadian manufacturer posts loss of $85 million as regional sector declines but hopes for 70/90-seat upswing

Bombardier is relying on an upturn in demand for 70- and 90-seat regional jets and another year of growth in business jets to turn around its aerospace business, which saw revenues drop almost 4% to $7.9 billion for the year ended 31 January while earnings before interest and tax more than halved to $190 million.

The Canadian manufacturer posted a net loss of $85 million. Most of the decline was due to fewer deliveries of the 50-seat CRJ200 regional jet, which dropped to 100 from 152 a year earlier, partially offset by an increase in deliveries of the CRJ700/900 family, up from 50 to 64, and Dash 8 Q turboprops, up from 18 to 32. Business jet deliveries rose to 128 aircraft from 89 a year earlier, and net orders for the year were up 69%, from 91 to 154.

Business aviation manufacturing revenues rose 22% to $2.06 billion, partially offsetting a 15% decline in regional aircraft manufacturing revenues to $3.6 billion. Bombardier expects deliveries in 2005-6 to match last year's 329 aircraft.

Bombardier Aerospace's backlog slid to $10.2 billion as regional jet deliveries outpaced order intake. "There are no plans to reduce production, but if this continues we will have to review," says president Pierre Beaudoin. The company has only 76 CRJ200s left on firm order, plus 90 CRJ700/900s, but expects growth in sales of the larger regional jets over the next five years.

DARREN SHANNON/WASHINGTON DC

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