Canada’s Bombardier says that it is talking to other Middle East airlines about potential orders of its new C-series jet after it was revealed the company is already in talks with Qatar Airways in mid-July.
Bahrain’s Gulf Air confirms that it is considering Bombardier’s C-series, as it continues to introduce regional jets into its fleet to serve short-haul destinations from Bahrain.
But other regional airlines don’t appear that interested in the C-series. Kuwait’s Wataniya, Sharjah-based Air Arabia and low-cost carrier Flydubai all say that they are not talking to Bombardier.
It is unlikely that Dubai’s Emirates would be interested in the C-series given that it is a narrow-body regional jet.
So far, Qatar Airways’ interest in the aircraft has been the most high profile.
At the UK’s Farnborough Airshow last week the carrier’s chief executive Akbar al-Baker said that he was still in negotiations with Bombardier over the purchase of a C-series.
The lack of a definite order appears to be down to an issue concerning the engine as the airline is now talking to US-based Pratt & Whitney, which manufactures the engines of the C-series.
“[There is] a lot of talking with Qatar which is good news and we are working very closely to solve the problems with Mr. Al-Baker. A lot of Middle East carriers are asking good questions and we are talking to other Middle East airlines,” says Benjamin Boehm, vice president of commercial aircraft programs at Bombardier.
Qatar Airways announced a total of $621m of orders at the show, including a $120m order for three Bombardier business jets and two Boeing 777 aircraft for $501m.
While Europe’s Airbus and US-based Boeing both announced big orders either before or during the airshow, Bombardier was also expected to announce a firm order for the C-series.
Since the aircraft was launched in 2004, Bombardier has secured just 90 orders with the first order still three years away from delivery.
“If [Bombardier] secured a Middle East customer that would be a huge short-term boost to the programme. The fact that they failed to secure a deal for even one C-series at the airshow last week speaks volumes,” says Saj Ahmad, aerospace and airline analyst at UK-based FBE Aerospace. “Even if Qatar Airways is persuaded to buy the C-series, it is so inefficient for missions beyond three hours, it would never be able to compete with the likes of Flydubai or Air Arabia,” says .