Irish lessor Lease Corporation International is confident it will be able to place its Bombardier CSeries twinjets with financially healthy carriers, and envisages firming CSeries options as the programme continues to gain momentum.
In early 2009, LCI emerged as the second CSeries customer after Lufthansa, and the first to order the larger-capacity CS300. Under the deal with Bombardier, three CS100s will be delivered to LCI in the second quarter of 2014, while delivery of the 17 CS300s will start in the first quarter of 2015.
"I think both [the CS100 and CS300] are going to be successful. The CS300 is obviously offering superlative seat mile economics, and the CS100 is showing good short airfield [capabilities]," said LCI chief executive Crispin Maunder.
He added that LCI expects to start finding "concrete" homes for its CSeries aircraft next year. "We deal with substantial airlines and we don't see any reason to vary that with regard to the CSeries. We're primarily concentrating on the high-credit side of the market. That's why we have the 20 options. As we start working through placing the aircraft, we'll start exercising the options as well."
To date, Bombardier has secured several customers for the Pratt & Whitney PurePower PW1500G-powered twinjet, and now holds a backlog of 123 firm orders, plus a letter of intent with Korean Air to deliver up to 30 CSeries aircraft to the SkyTeam Alliance member.
Maunder believes Airbus's decision to clarify its narrowbody replacement plan and launch the A320neo programme is part of the reason why the CSeries is gaining momentum. "We know the media had been questioning the CSeries but the advent of the CSeries has caused Airbus to react and I think the airlines and manufacturers are going to do well out of this now. You have particularly fuel-efficient aircraft now being developed by Airbus and Bombardier."
Maunder believes the A319neo "will struggle against the CSeries" as the CS300 "is a purpose-built design for this particular range and capacity, and a far more efficient airplane than the A319".