June 8, 2015 / 5:10 PM / 4 years ago

Bombardier CEO says Paris 'not that critical' to CSeries

MIAMI (Reuters) - Bombardier Inc (BBDb.TO) Chief Executive Alain Bellemare played down on Monday the importance of the CSeries jet’s Paris Airshow debut, saying the event is not critical to the success of the new narrow-body jet.

Bombardier's CS300 Aircraft, showing its' Pratt & Whitney engine in the foreground, sits in the hangar prior to its' test flight in Mirabel February 27, 2015. REUTERS/Christinne Muschi

The CSeries is nearing certification after years of delays and cost overruns, and two test planes will be at Paris, the jet’s first air show appearance.

“Paris, to be honest with you, it’s one milestone, but it’s not that critical,” Bellemare said in an interview. “It’s a few days in a year. It’s a few days in the life of a 20-, 25-year program.”

Bellemare, who took over as chief executive of the Canadian company in February, did not say whether Bombardier was expecting to announce new orders at the event, seen as a key sales opportunity for plane makers.

Bellemare acknowledged that Bombardier is under pressure to discount the CSeries. The mid-range CSeries has put it in competition with heavyweights Airbus (AIR.PA) and Boeing (BA.N), and even though certification looks all but certain, Bombardier has not announced a firm order since September.

“Every time there’s a new product coming to market, you have competitive pressure, you have people saying you have to discount the aircraft to get your fair share of the market,” said Bellemare.

Asked whether some CSeries deals might be loss-making in the short term, he said Bombardier will do what is responsible for customers, but also for shareholders.

“We’re not going to do deals that our shareholders won’t want us to do because we’re responsible leaders,” he said. “At the same time, we understand the dynamic of the market, and we will do what is right for the business.”

Commercial Aircraft President Fred Cromer said last week Bombardier would update the CSeries brochure at Paris, based on results of its test program. On Monday, Cromer reiterated that Bombardier is “excited” about the plane’s performance, without offering specific numbers.

Bombardier has promised the CSeries will have better fuel economy and lower maintenance costs than other planes in production.

Bellemare said the CSeries can outperform the smallest offerings from its competitors on efficiency.

“When you go at the bottom end of the range, you don’t have efficient aircraft,” he said. “Our aircraft has been designed for this segment of the market, so it makes a big difference.”

Bellemare spoke on the sidelines of the International Air Transport Association’s annual meeting.

Shares were down 0.8 percent at C$2.51 on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

Writing by Allison Martell; Editing by Peter Galloway and Andrew Hay

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