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SAS and Air Canada eye CSeries as early narrowbody replacement

Major airline groups Air Canada and SAS have revealed that they are examining Bombardier's CSeries as they seek replacements for their short-haul fleets much earlier than Airbus and Boeing are planning to introduce new-generation single-aisle successors.

Last year SAS launched an ambitious strategy, targeting a 20% reduction in its total carbon dioxide emissions by 2020. This goal assumes annual passenger growth of 4%, coupled with savings stemming evenly from technological developments - such as alternative fuels, next-generation aircraft and engines - and operational measures.

But now SAS, which styles itself as "the world's most environmentally conscious airline", says it may have to revise its climate-based fleet strategy since both Airbus and Boeing have pushed back their single-aisle successor timelines. "We are disappointed regarding the delay. However our environmental goal to 2020 still remains," says the airline.

 © Bombardier

The two big airframers have pushed back their estimates for the likely introduction of Airbus A320/Boeing 737 successors from the middle of the decade to no earlier than 2020, which has impacted SAS's plans, says environment director Niels Eirik Nertun: "We are delayed because Airbus and Boeing have been delayed. It means that we have to reconsider our previous [fleet] plans."

SAS aims to phase out its old-generation Boeing MD-80s and 737 Classics from 2014, and fleet strategy chief Niklas Hardange says as that an Airbus/Boeing replacement is delayed until 2020, the company will consider the CSeries, which is due to enter service in late 2013.

Similarly, Air Canada sees the Canadian twinjet as a potential solution to its near-term replacement needs. Sam Elfassy, senior director of environment affairs for Air Canada, told the Aviation and Environment Summit in Geneva that the airline planned to start replacing its fleet of 92 Airbus narrowbodies in 2012 and that the Bombardier C Series represented a "perfect" potential aircraft candidate.

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