Thursday, October 26, 2017

United will not re-evaluate CSeries after Airbus deal

United Airlines does not plan to re-evaluate the Bombardier CSeries for its fleet, following the announcement of plans by Airbus to buy a majority stake in the aircraft program.

"There's nothing about this new deal that would change our view of the aircraft," said Gerry Laderman, treasurer of the Chicago-based carrier, at the Airline Economics Growth Frontiers conference in New York on 19 October. "We're just not right now looking at the small narrow-body market."

Airbus and Bombardier announced that the European airframer would take a 50.01% stake in the CSeries program, as well as open a new assembly line at its Mobile, Alabama, plant to circumvent possible import tariffs on the aircraft, on 16 October.

United considered the CSeries as part of a small narrow-body aircraft campaign in late 2015. However, it opted for 65 Boeing 737-700s over the Canadian aircraft in early 2016.

"The reason we didn't pick the CSeries when we were looking at small narrow-bodies was the economics on the aircraft we picked were better economics," says Laderman on the aircraft campaign.

The 737-700, while slightly larger than the CS100, offered United commonality with its fleet of 310 737s – roughly 44% of its entire mainline fleet – at the end of 2015, Flight Fleets Analyzer shows.

Bombardier is understood to have pushed hard for the United order, including flying the CSeries to the airline's Chicago O'Hare base to show it off to executives and staff in November 2015.

United converted the 737-700 order to four -800s and 61 Max aircraft in November 2016, as its then-new leadership team opted to focus instead on larger gauge aircraft rather than the 100-seat segment.

"[We've] modified that order for a bigger aircraft because, with where we think the network's headed, we'd rather have some larger narrow-bodies," says Laderman.

His comments follow those by United president Scott Kirby in August also dispelling any possibility of a potential 100-seat mainline aircraft order.

Delta Air Lines is the only US mainline carrier with a CSeries order, a firm commitment for 75 CS100s.

(Edward Russell - FlightGlobal News)

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