UPDATE 1-Bombardier in talks with North American airlines on CSeries jet orders

Fri Oct 9, 2015 6:38pm EDT
 
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(Adds details on airlines, context)

By Allison Martell and Tim Hepher

TORONTO/PARIS Oct 9 (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier Inc said on Friday it is in advanced discussions to sell its new CSeries jet to airlines in North America, without identifying the prospective buyers.

Montreal-based Bombardier has redoubled efforts to win a landmark order for the CSeries after failing to sell the program to rival Airbus, and is pitching the jets hard to airlines in North America, said two sources familiar with the matter.

The sources said Bombardier was pitching Southwest Airlines Co and American Airlines Group Inc, as well as similar airlines. One source said Bombardier was also pushing to sell the jets in China.

"We are in some pretty advanced discussions," said Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera. "Our senior leaders are engaged."

Air Canada, Canada's biggest airline, is seen by many as an obvious potential customer for the CSeries. The company declined to comment on Friday. American Airlines also declined to comment.

"We have nothing in the works that would have our customers expecting to see anything but a Boeing bird when they walk up to a Southwest gate," said a Southwest spokesman.

A new order from a major U.S. airline would help restore confidence in the CSeries program, which has not won a new firm order in more than a year.

But Bombardier may need to offer steep discounts to lure mainline carriers from Airbus and Boeing Co, which have deep relationships with those airlines, and have also cut prices to protect their market share.

Talks between Airbus and Bombardier ended abruptly on Tuesday after Reuters reported the discussions. (Editing by Alan Crosby)