(Adds response from Bombardier)
By Victoria Bryan
PARIS, June 18 (Reuters) - Airbus Group SE sales chief John Leahy on Thursday brushed off the idea Bombardier Inc’s new CSeries jet might pose a competitive threat.
The CSeries, which is in the midst of flight testing, made its air show debut in Paris with two test planes. Montreal-based Bombardier has not announced a firm order for the jet since September.
Asked whether he was worried about the possibility Bombardier might develop a bigger CSeries jet that would compete more directly with Airbus’s bestselling A320, sales chief John Leahy replied “no.”
“I don’t mean to insult Montreal in any way, but the last couple of years I’ve not really noticed they’re much of a competitive threat to us or Boeing,” said Leahy, at the company’s closing Paris Airshow news conference.
He said Bombardier’s executive chairman, Pierre Beaudoin, had invited him to see the CSeries a few days earlier.
Leahy praised the jet’s interior and added: “He’s got a nice little airplane there, but no, I’m not too worried.”
Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella Delabarrera called Leahy’s comments “gracious”, but pointed to Bombardier’s latest commercial aircraft market forecasts, for 7,000 deliveries in the 100- to 150-seat segment over the next 20 years.
“Competition has certainly built an impressive backlog, but as our market forecasts indicate, there’s still a lot left to capture, and we certainly expect to do that,” she said. (Writing and additional reporting by Allison Martell Editing by Andre Grenon and Andrew Hay)