Bombardier poised to launch new plane

Sat Jul 12, 2008 6:23pm EDT
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By Tim Hepher and Bill Rigby

LONDON (Reuters) - Canada's Bombardier (BBDb.TO: Quote) looked set on Saturday to announce the long-awaited launch of its CSeries airliner in a bid to end a transatlantic duopoly held by Boeing (BA.N: Quote) and Europe's Airbus EAD.PA.

The Montreal-based firm called a press conference for 5:30 a.m EDT (0930 GMT) on Sunday at Farnborough, a day before the world's largest air show begins there on Monday -- an unusual move signaling an attempt to get on stage first with a major announcement.

The 100-130 seat CSeries would put the third-largest civil aircraft manufacturer in direct competition with the smaller types of single-aisle jets produced by Airbus and Boeing. For years they have divided the market for jets with over 100 seats.

A decision on whether to go ahead with a formal launch of e Bombardier CSeries, which has been available for pre-sale for several months, has been one of the most keenly awaited moves at an air show overshadowed by gloom over high oil prices.

A company spokesman declined to give further details.

But a source close to the CSeries project said Sunday's announcement would provide "excellent news" on the plane.

The CSeries aircraft would mark a branching out from Bombardier's current lines of regional jets and turboprops, which hold up to 100 or 80 passengers, respectively.

The main aircraft that would compete against the CSeries are Boeing's 737-600 and 737-700 and Airbus's A318 and A319. They have a combined backlog of some 1,100 planes.   Continued...

<p>Pierre Beaudoin (L), newly appointed president and chief executive officer of Bombardier Inc., waits for the start of the company's annual meeting as Laurent Beaudoin (2nd L), chairman of the board, looks up from his notes in Montreal, June 4, 2008. Bombardier has called a news conference for Sunday amid speculation the Canadian firm could announce the long-awaited launch of its CSeries jet. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi</p>