For the first time, Bombardier Aerospace has revealed its expectations of the 100- to 149-seat commercial-aircraft market segment at which the proposed C Series jetliner would be aimed. The statistics appear in a 20-year forecast published here yesterday.
August 1 marks the deadline for PSA Airlines pilots to agree to US Airways’ conditions for placing 20 Bombardier CRJ900LRs with the wholly owned subsidiary over the course of a year, starting at the end of the first quarter of next year.
Canada’s Bombardier Aerospace (Hall 3 Stand D8) enters this Farnborough show with some critical questions to answer about the future of its regional airliner business. Operating under a cloud of speculation and conjecture since it announced its decision to shelve the once-heralded C Series project in January, the company continues to contemplate its next course of action.
A surge of orders for executive conversions of airliners and projections for continued buoyancy in the business aviation market at large has convinced Stork Aerospace to embark on a “major” expansion of its Fokker Services conversion and completions business.
Northwest Airlines last month split an order for 72 regional jets between Embraer and Bombardier. The contracts, still subject to approval by a U.S. bankruptcy court, call for delivery of 36 E175s and 36 CRJ900s, both of which would arrive in dual-class, 76-seat configuration. Northwest plans to award the Embraer jets to its new Compass Airlines subsidiary.
Bombardier Aerospace announced last month it will lay off another 1,330 employees as part of a plan to “realign” regional aircraft production rates with market demand. The adjustments will see production of the CRJ700 and CRJ900 cut from 65 to 50 next year and Q Series turboprop output increase from 50 to 65 as a result of a significant rise in Q400 deliveries.
Comair’s flight attendants last month voted to accept a new five-year contract that would pay new cabin crew about 20 percent less than current employees, moving Comair one step closer to meeting its cost-cutting goals and adding 35 regional jets starting next month. The extra capacity will mean another 350 flight attendant jobs and guarantee existing workers their scheduled pay raises over the life of the contract.
SkyWest Airlines will fly another 20 CRJ700s for United Airlines as part of a deal that saw the St. George, Utah-based regional place another $637 million order with Bombardier last month. The contract calls for delivery of the airplanes starting in the third quarter and ending during next year’s first quarter. Configured to hold 66 passengers, the airplanes will carry six first-class seats.
Industry developments have conspired to depress the 50-seat jet market to its weakest position since the late 1990s. Backlogs have shrunk to their lowest levels in years, and the latest deal struck by Independence Air to return another 24 CRJs to their lessors hasn’t helped matters.
Twilight has fallen unceremoniously on the heyday of the 50-seat regional jet, and Bombardier’s October 28 announcement that it would suspend production of the CRJ200 only underscored that fact. Of course, the recent bankruptcies of Northwest Airlines, Delta Air Lines and Independence Air haven’t helped, but signs of a meltdown came long before any CRJ operators stopped deliveries or started grounding airplanes.