Bombardier set to hand over first CSeries aircraft
After years of delay and big cost overruns, Bombardier’s CSeries program is finally getting off the ground with the delivery of its first aircraft to Swiss International Air Lines.
The CS100 plane will officially be handed over to the European carrier at a ceremony later today at Montreal’s Mirabel airport attended by government ministers, suppliers and Bombardier employees.
The aircraft, the first of 30 firm orders for CSeries aircraft by Swiss International, will leave for Zurich on Thursday morning and begin regular service July 15.
The CSeries is slated to make its first passenger flights in North America on Wednesday with members of the news media as well as suppliers and guests invited aboard two one-hour flights around the airport.
A similar flight took place June 3 between Dublin and Zurich. A test aircraft will also conduct passenger flights next month at the Farnborough Air Show near London.
The 110- to 160-seat CSeries is two years late and about US$2 billion over budget. The first of the larger CS300 version is slated to be delivered later this year to Air Baltic.
Montreal-based Bombardier has struggled financially as the CSeries ran into headwinds as the company began building its largest plane ever from scratch.
It has finalized an agreement with the Quebec government on a US$1 billion investment in exchange for a 49.5 per cent stake in the CSeries. The province will make two US$500 million payments, on June 30 and Sept. 1.
Feds still mulling bailout
Bombardier is also seeking a similar contribution from the federal government. However, Ottawa has reportedly pushed Bombardier to change its voting structure, something the founding family that controls the company through multiple voting shares insists it has no intention of doing.
Government financial support has attracted the ire of Brazilian rival Embraer, which threatened to launch a challenge at the World Trade Organization after Bombardier signed large orders for the CSeries from Delta Air Lines and Air Canada.
The company has secured 370 firm orders and 252 options and purchase rights for the two aircraft sizes.