| MONTREAL, March 24
MONTREAL, March 24 Bombardier Inc said
its CSeries will soon become the largest commercial aircraft
capable of landing at London City Airport, a feat the Canadian
planemaker expects will whet buyer interest at a time of
sluggish market demand for new jets.
Bombardier, which this week completed a series of dedicated
flight trials, expects to receive "steep approach" certification
in the second quarter so that airlines can land the 110-seat
CS100 variant at the urban airport, which has the challenge of a
shorter runway, spokesman Bryan Tucker said.
The certification would allow CSeries customer Swiss
Airlines to operate at London City, which is a
four-mile drive from the capital's main financial district.
"We expect this to generate interest from other operators as
the aircraft demonstrates its capabilities," Tucker said.
The arrival of the lightweight, carbon-composite CSeries at
London City could boost Bombardier in the run-up to the
industry's showcase Paris Air Show in June.
It comes as planemakers are bracing for another bout of
softer sales in 2017 after a prolonged order boom peaked in
2014. Planemakers are having to battle harder for business amid
a glut of new planes and concerns over the economy.
"We've been binging on orders," said Teal Group aerospace
analyst Richard Aboulafia, who expects muted demand in 2017.
Because of its lighter weight than most aircraft of its
size, the Canadian jet can fly direct to New York from London
City when carrying about 40 passengers in exclusively
UK startup Odyssey Airlines and Geneva-based private charter
operator PrivatAir have both announced plans to operate the
plane out of the airport, with Odyssey planning services to
North America and the Middle East.
A number of operators have tried and failed to make money on
banker-friendly London City-New York services, which until now
have had to stop in Ireland for fuel on the westbound journey
due to prevailing headwinds.
Although it has won accolades for fuel savings and a smooth
entry into service with Swiss in 2016, the CSeries has not
received a substantial order since the sale of 75 CS100 jets to
Delta Air Lines nearly a year ago.
An earlier order for 45 130-seat CS300 versions to Air
Canada was completed in June.
After relaunching the programme with steep discounts to
boost sales following production delays, Bombardier is coming
under pressure to secure profitable new sales in the run up to
the Paris show.
"We are comfortable where we are at this point," Tucker said
of CSeries' existing sales.
As of December 2016, the CSeries had recorded 360 firm
orders and most capacity is sold out through 2020, he said.
(Editing by Tim Hepher and David Clarke)