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* Order for 12 aircraft would be worth $870 mln
* Options for 18 more jets would bring deal to $2.08 bln
* Bombardier shares rise nearly 1 pct on TSX
Dec 19 (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc, the world's No. 3 planemaker, said on Wednesday that an airline based in the Americas has signed a letter of intent to buy 12 C-Series jets, with options for another 18 aircraft.
A firm contract would be worth $870 million, or up to $2.08 billion if all of the options were exercised.
Montreal-based Bombardier, which delayed the first flight of its new C-Series jetliner in November, has seen sluggish demand for the aircraft to date. The six-month delay, caused by problems with suppliers, raised questions about Bombardier's ability to deliver the plane, a $3.4 billion development effort, on time.
Bombardier said that wings for the first C-Series flight test vehicle are now being mated to the fuselage at its final assembly facility. Assembly is "progressing smoothly" in advance of the first flight, planned by the end of June 2013, the company said.
An instrumentation and loading system is being finalized, Bombardier said, for the start of airframe tests in January.
Shares of Bombardier added 3 Canadian cents to C$3.58 on the Toronto Stock Exchange on Wednesday afternoon after the announcement.