Airbus presents A220, rebranded Bombardier

Airbus unveiled last Tuesday its newest jet, the A220, which is actually a rebranded Bombardier's CSeries passenger plane, news wires reported. The new 110-130-seat jet is set to further broaden its battle with Boeing on the small passenger jets field. The rebranded plane will be slotted just under its longstanding A300 portfolio which stretches from the 124-seat A319 to the 544-seat A380.

The makeover seals the European takeover of one of Canada's most visible industrial projects and ends Bombardier's efforts to go it alone in the mainline jet market against larger rivals. Airbus officials stressed it would be positive for jobs in Quebec where the lightweight jet is built. The 110-seat and 130-seat models, previously known as CS100 and CS300, will be known as A220-100 and A220-300 respectively. Airbus has committed to extending its factory in Mobile, Alabama, to build the aircraft. That would add to Bombardier's existing plant in Mirabel, Quebec. The change of identity came in a slick branding ceremony as the Canadian-developed passenger jet performed a flypast over Airbus' Toulouse facilities.

Airbus expects to sell a “double-digit” number of the jets this year and sees demand for at least 3,000 of them over 20 years, CSeries sales chief David Dufrenois said during the presentation. The forecast may soon come true as already last Wednesday it became clear that JetBlue Airways has ordered 60 of Airbus' A220 jets, worth $5.4bn on list prices. The deal caps JetBlue's long search for a more efficient small jet to replace its Embraer SA E190 aircraft, which it relies on to ferry passengers on such routes as Boston to New York. Deliveries of the A220-300 planes are scheduled to begin in 2020.

The order also provides an immediate impetus for the A220, suggesting that Airbus will be able to entice more airlines to buy the plane. For Airbus, quickly racking up orders for the A220 is a crucial challenge as the Toulouse-based company seeks to lower costs. To make the aircraft viable, the planemaker says it needs a serious costs reduction in its supply chain and is in the process of negotiating with suppliers.

A deal for Airbus to take majority control of the loss-making Montreal-based aircraft programme with Bombardier and Quebec as minority partners officially closed on 1 July. The move also sets the stage for a broader confrontation with Boeing, which last week announced a tentative deal to take over the commercial unit of Bombardier's competitor Embraer.

In yet another deal, Airbus and Boeing split firm orders for 19 jets from Vistara, the Indian affiliate of Singapore Airlines, that is seeking to start international flights and bolster local operations. Vistara will buy 13 of the A320neo and A321neo jets that have a list price starting at about $111m each and six Boeing 787-9 Dreamliners at about $282m apiece. The combined order is valued at $3.1bn, excluding customary discounts, the carrier said in a statement.

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