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Usual suspects reign as Paris airshow concludes; Bombardier flatlines

Airbus sales chief says Bombardier has "nice little airplane" but is not a threat

Bombardier's CSeries aircraft made their public debut in Paris. PHOTO Bombardier Inc.

Bombardier’s CSeries aircraft made their public debut in Paris. PHOTO Bombardier Inc.

PARIS—It wasn’t the week Bombardier’s new CEO Alain Bellmare and longtime executive Pierre Beaudoin were hoping for. The Montreal-based transportation company did little more than spin its wheels while the old guard stole the limelight at the Paris Air Show.

Bombardier’s management had continually downplayed the significance of securing further orders for its new CSeries aircraft in Paris, but there is little doubt both company officials and stockholders are feeling letdown by the lack of buyers for its long-delayed planes.

The company made several positive announcements early in the week, including an upgrade in which Deutsche Lufthansa-owned airline, Swiss, elected to convert an order of 10 of 30 CS100s to the larger CS300s, and a firm order from Westjet Encore for five Q400 regional turboprops. Later in the week, the Canadian aerospace company also penned a 5-year heavy maintenance agreement with Mesa Airlines, wherein Bombardier will perform heavy maintenance on the airline’s fleet of CRJ700s and CRJ900s.

But Bombardier failed to generate blockbuster deals like its larger rivals Boeing and Airbus.

And Airbus Group sales chief, John Leahy, did not hesitate to outline Bombardier’s status as the little brother of the group in Airbus’s end-of-show press conference.

“He’s got a nice little airplane there, but no, [we’re] not too worried right now,” Leahy said, referring to Beaudoin.

“I don’t mean to insult Montreal in any way… [But] for the last couple years, I haven’t noticed that they’re much of a competitive threat to us or Boeing in the marketplace,” he added.

By volume of sales, Leahy certainly has a point.

Airbus came out on top in the air show’s unofficial sales war again this year, securing orders or commitments for 421 aircraft worth $57-billion. By far the most popular plane among buyers was its A320 model, of which it sold 366.

A320 sales alone allowed Airbus to edge Boeing in this year’s tally. The American giant secured orders for 331 new planes, amounting to $50.2-billion in sales. Its largest deal of the air show was an order of 100 737s from the world’s largest aircraft leasing company, Aercap.

Despite the strong sales of both leading companies though, it wasn’t as big an event as last year’s Farnborough Air Show. The English locale alternates years with Paris. At Farnborough 2014, Airbus signed agreements for 496 aircraft valued at $75-billion, while Boeing was able to secure $40.2-billion for 201 planes.

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