UPDATE 5-United, Southwest buy 73 Boeing jets in blow to Bombardier

Thu Jan 21, 2016 4:57pm EST
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(Adds comments from Bombardier sales VP, adds analyst quote analyst)

Jan 21 (Reuters) - United Airlines said on Thursday it will buy 40 small planes from Boeing Co, dealing a $3.2 billion blow to Bombardier Inc's hopes of landing a major customer for its fledgling CSeries program.

Separately, Southwest Airlines Co said it had ordered 33 of Boeing's 737-800 aircraft, a deal it struck in December but announced on Thursday.

Reuters reported last week that Boeing was poised to snatch at least part of Chicago-based United's order for small jets that seat about 100 passengers.

Boeing 737-700s can seat 126 people and will be flown by United's pilots, reducing its reliance on contractors as a shortage of regional pilots looms in the United States.

Canada's Bombardier has not landed an order in more than a year for the CSeries, a new carbon-composite aircraft whose two models seat between 100 and 160 passengers and are equipped with fuel-efficient Pratt & Whitney engines.

The orders suggest "good market demand" for aircraft after sales fell last year, said Howard Rubel, an analyst at Jefferies in New York. It also shows airlines prefer fewer models in their fleets, making cockpits more familiar to pilots.

"Commonality works," Rubel said.

Reuters reported in October that Bombardier had offered the CSeries to Southwest, a long shot since the airline maintains an all-Boeing fleet.   Continued...