New York's JetBlue Airways has rallied behind Bombardier in the Canadian airframer's trade dispute with Boeing, as the airline continues to evaluate the CSeries for its fleet.
JetBlue chief executive Robin Hayes is urging the US International Trade Commission (USITC) to reject Boeing's call for tariffs to be imposed on the Bombardier airliner.
"If the petitions prevail, JetBlue will lose access to a competitive and innovative platform that could bring significant benefits to the American flying public," writes Hayes in a 24 September letter to the commission's chairman Rhonda Schmidtlein.
The US Department of Commerce is set to make a preliminary decision in the coming days on whether to impose countervailing duties against the CSeries.
Boeing contends that Bombardier sold 75 CS100s to Delta Air Lines at a loss in 2016, hurting sales of the Boeing 737-700 and Max 7. Bombardier, for its part, argues that the CSeries, being smaller than those aircraft, is not a direct competitor.
JetBlue had previously said it was evaluating the CSeries. The airline is in the midst of a fleet review which includes a look at the future of its Embraer 190 fleet.
The carrier does not operate Boeing or Bombardier aircraft.
"JetBlue is monitoring the development of the Bombardier CSeries because it could have the potential to contribute to our competitive advantages," Hayes confirms in the letter to Schmidtlein. "First, the CSeries is the only aircraft offering a newly designed five-abreast interior. The aircraft's interior has won praise from commentators and our competitors alike, which aligns with our history of product differentiation."
Hayes also refers to the operating costs of the CSeries' Pratt & Whitney geared turbofan engine, saying that they align with JetBlue's strategy of maintaining a low-cost structure.
The airline believes that the industry will benefit from competition between the CSeries and Embraer 190, adds Hayes, backing Bombardier's assertion that its aircraft does not compete with larger Boeing and Airbus jets.
Hayes had previously expressed dissatisfaction over the E190s in JetBlue's fleet, saying in March: "We look at the E190 issue not as a CASM issue, but a return issue."
Embraer is known to have offered the re-engined E195-E2 to the airline, but the airline has appeared lukewarm in its response to the aircraft.