Fresh from securing a major commitment for CS300s from Air Canada, Bombardier is seeking more blue-chip airline operators from North America, Europe and, at a later stage, Asia.
Speaking to Flightglobal in an interview at the Singapore air show, Bombardier’s senior vice-president commercial Colin Bole says that Air Canada’s commitment to order 45 CS300s and take 30 options is a validation of his strategy of focusing on big-name customers.
“We’re very proud of our existing list of customers, but we realise also that to get the market to move to the next step in terms of product recognition, we need to bring along big key customers early in the programme,” he says.
Other key clients already in place include Swiss in Europe and Korean Air in Asia, but Bole says that there is certainly room for more in the short-term.
“I think we want to go beyond that – we probably want to have another marquee customer in North America, we want to have another marquee customer in Europe, and I then I think what’s missing is Southeast Asia,” he says.
To that end, Bole says that the week at the Singapore air show has been valuable for the manufacturer.
“It’s been a very good week in terms of keeping the lines of communication open with the existing contacts, but also creating some new lines of communication on the CSeries with the big players in the region,” he says.
Nevertheless, Bole expects that a new Southeast Asian CSeries orders could be some years out, as carriers there “digest” through previous orders for Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies, as well as a slowing regional economy.
In Europe, Lufthansa Group subsidiary Swiss is due to take delivery of the first CS100 in June and enter service shortly therafter.
Although keen to see the Swiss experience parlayed into further opportunities with other Lufthansa Group carriers, Bole admits that it has not had detailed discussions with the likes of Eurowings, Brussels Airlines or Austrian Airlines.
The latter recently moved to replace its remaining Fokker 100 and 70 jets with Embraer 190s and E195s inherited from Lufthansa CityLine, in what has been seen by many as a major blow to the CSeries.
Bole also says that even with the focus on marquee signings, the manufacturer remains committed to the smaller and startup CSeries customers, such as Flymojo, Odyssey Airlines and SaudiGulf Airlines.
“It’s simply that to get the next range of customers and to get the market recognition you need to get a few big names. Once we have those marquee customers, we will definitely be trying then at the next stage to broaden the operator base,” he says.
With the latest commitments, Bole says that Bombardier now has a “very full skyline” for the CSeries over the next three years, but would work with lessors and other customers to open up near-term production slots if a new airline customer required it.
Flightglobal's Fleets Analyzer shows that there are 243 CSeries aircraft on firm order.