Republic Airlines has put off making a decision on its order for 40 Bombardier CSeries aircraft for the time being, says chief executive Bryan Bedford.
“We’re not talking about cancelling the order,” he says at the Regional Airlines Association (RAA) convention in St. Louis on 14 May.
However, this does not mean that the order for the 138-seat CS300 aircraft is a sure thing.
The Indianapolis-based carrier is focused on the profitability of its regional operations feeding mainline carriers currently, says Bedford. The CSeries does not necessarily fit with these operations, he adds.
Republic ordered the CS300 in 2010 when it owned the ultra low-cost carrier Frontier Airlines. It sold the Denver-based carrier to Indigo Partners in December 2013, following significant losses at the operation.
The airline has about two years before it needs to make a final decision on its CSeries order, says Bedford. He anticipates that first delivery to Republic will occur in the second half of 2016 following delays to the programme.
“[I’m] impressed with the product,” says Bedford, who saw the aircraft during a visit to Bombardier’s facilities at Montreal Mirabel International airport recently. “I think it’s going to meet the performance parameters that Bombardier put out there.”
This echoes similar comments from former Lufthansa group chief executive Christoph Franz. In January, he said that the aircraft had met all performance expectations during the first six months of its flight test programme.
Lufthansa-subsidiary Swiss has firm orders for 30 CS100 aircraft.
A lack of new sales and market acceptance of the CSeries remain concerns for Bedford, he says.
Bombardier has firm orders and commitments for 452 CSeries aircraft, Flightglobal’s Ascend Online database shows.
Rob Dewar, vice-president of the CSeries programme at Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, said earlier at RAA that the flight test programme had accumulated more than 300h and flown more than 100 flights since it began in September 2013.
The fourth flight test aircraft (FTV-4) was with flight test team and would fly “soon”, he says.
The CSeries programme is on-track to achieve final certification and entry-into-service by the second half of 2015, says Dewar.