23 OCTOBER 2017
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In a move that took the industry by surprise last week, Airbus and Bombardier announced they are to become partners on the C-Series aircraft programme, bringing together Airbus’ global reach and scale with Bombardier’s newest aircraft family.
The companies said the agreement positioned both partners “to fully unlock the value of the C-Series platform of state-of-the-art jets and create significant new value for customers, suppliers, employees and shareholders”.
The news will not please Boeing, which is locked in a dispute with Bombardier over alleged subsidy irregularities surrounding the sale of the C-Series to Delta Air Lines and successfully petitioned US authorities to impose high tariffs on the aircraft.
Crucially, part of the Airbus/Bombardier partnership means aircraft for the US market will be assembled at the Airbus factory in Alabama – potentially circumventing the tariff problem.
Airbus said the market for single-aisle jets such as the C-Series was a key growth driver, representing 70% of expected future demand. The C-Series, with 100-150 seats, was “highly complementary” to Airbus’ existing single-aisle aircraft portfolio, it added.
The future of the C-Series and of Bombardier is also crucial to Belfast, where the manufacturer employs more than 4,500 staff, around 1,000 of whom work directly on the C-Series.
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