Bombardier strikes CSeries deal with Iraqi Airways

Tue Nov 19, 2013 5:48pm EST
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By Susan Taylor

DUBAI/TORONTO (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO: Quote) said on Tuesday it has signed a letter of intent to sell five CSeries jetliners to Iraqi Airways, the first new deal since June for the aircraft, which the Canadian planemaker has spent billions developing.

Iraq's national carrier will buy five of the CS300 jets with options for 11 more. The news from the Dubai Airshow lifted Bombardier's shares modestly with investors continuing to be tentative, awaiting more closely watched "firm" orders for the new plane.

The deal, which is valued at $387 million at list prices, but swells to $1.26 billion with options, follows the first flight of the CSeries in mid-September.

The CSeries, a $3.4 billion development program that brings Bombardier into competition with the lower-capacity planes built by industry giants Boeing Co (BA.N: Quote) and Airbus EAD.PA, has suffered from several delays and sluggish demand.

Testing was slow to start, but is advancing according to plan, CSeries program director Sebastien Mullot told a Scotiabank Transportation and Aerospace Conference in Toronto on Tuesday.

Nearly 200 hours of flight and ground checks have largely confirmed that the first test aircraft is behaving as expected, Mullot said. Bombardier expects to start flying second and third test vehicles in the coming weeks and intends to run daily test flights, he added.

"As far as confirming the true performance from a take-off, landing, fuel-burn standpoint, it's something that is going to occur more in the first half of 2014," Mullot said at the conference.

As Bombardier gathers data to back up its claims for the CSeries' fuel and operating cost efficiency, there will be less need to discount prices to sell planes, Mullot said. "From now on, you should see the pricing trend going up."   Continued...

Bombardier's CSeries aircraft lands after its first test flight in Mirabel, Quebec September 16, 2013. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi