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Delta committed to CSeries despite delivery uncertainty

Delta Air Lines remains committed to its Bombardier CSeries order, following plans by Airbus to buy a majority stake in the programme.

"We love the product and we can't wait to bring it to market," says Ed Bastian, chief executive of the carrier, on the CSeries at a media event in Atlanta today.

His comments come two days after Airbus announced plans to buy a 50.01% stake in the CSeries programme and a week after he said that Delta, which has a firm order for 75 CS100s, definitely planned to take delivery of the aircraft without paying any of the possible US Department of Commerce tariffs.

The Airbus investment, which includes a new CSeries assembly line in Mobile, Alabama that airframer executives expect will allow the aircraft to avoid import duties, follows a proposed 300% tariff by US authorities on the CSeries after a complaint by Boeing.

"When you produce an aircraft in the US, it is not subject to an import duty under US rules," said Alain Bellemare, chief executive of Bombardier, during a media briefing on the deal on 16 October. "We are not circumventing anything."

The deal came together without any input from Delta, says Bastian, though he acknowledges being aware of the discussions prior to the announcement.

He says he is "optimistic" that the Airbus-Bombardier deal, which will see the Canadian airframer's stake in the programme reduced to just 31%, will minimise the political concerns with the CSeries.

Boeing claims that Bombardier sold the CS100 to Delta at below-market rates, which threatens its 737-700 and Max 7 programmes.

Delta has repeatedly insisted that the 737 was never an option in its campaign for a new 100-seat aircraft, noting in past statements that Boeing had pitched used Embraer 190s and not the 737 when it selected the CS100.

The questions over the deal put the CS100 delivery schedule for Delta In question. The airline was scheduled to receive its first 16 in 2018.

"The schedule is a little bit of a question mark for us," says Gil West, chief operating officer of Delta, on the CSeries order.

Bastian reiterated this view, adding that he will have more clarity on the timing of the aircraft after a meeting with Airbus and Bombardier later this week.

Airbus chief executive Tom Enders said on 16 October that they expected Delta would be "willing to wait" for the CSeries, adding that the airframer would begin in-depth conversations with the airline shortly.

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