Airbus and Bombardier Finalize C Series Deal

 - June 8, 2018, 8:51 AM
Under its new partnership with Bombardier, Airbus will build C Series jets at the same site in Mobile, Alabama, where it already assembles A320s for the U.S. market. (Photo: Airbus)

Airbus and Bombardier have finalized the C Series partnership agreement first announced on October 16 last year, the companies announced Friday. Although CSeries Aircraft Limited Partnership (CSALP) already existed, Airbus’s “consolidation” of it will come into effect on July 1, 2018, when the European manufacturer takes a controlling stake.

During a conference call on Friday, a few hours after the announcement of the final deal, Airbus CFO Harald Wilhelm expressed satisfaction with the speed at which the sides managed to close the transaction. “We’re all super-happy we have received all regulatory approvals and executed definitive agreements last night, and this allowed us to close the transaction well ahead of our original schedule,” he said. 

The partnership's head office, leadership team, and primary final assembly line will operate out of Bombardier’s base in Mirabel, Québec, while a second C Series line serves as an extension to Airbus’s A320 family final assembly line in Mobile, Alabama, “dedicated to U.S.-based customers.”

Airbus Commercial Aircraft head of performance management Phillipe Balducchi will lead the partnership. During Friday's call, Balducchi would not comment on reports regarding any change of branding for the C Series and its variants, the CS100 and CS300.

Under the deal, Bombardier had agreed to fund cash shortfalls of up to $925 million over the course of three and a half years, and the partners' Class A shareholders will share the cost of any excess shortfall. 

Meanwhile, the C Series program continues its deliberate production ramp up. Bombardier delivered 17 aircraft in 2017 and 29 now operate with Swiss International Airlines, Air Baltic, and Korean Air. The company expects the line in Mirabel to double last year's deliveries in 2018. 

“It will be a difficult ramp-up but we are very focused on it being robust and steep in future years,” admitted Bombardier senior vice president and CFO John Di Bert. The partners hope to achieve a production rate at Mirabel of 10 per month and reach four per month at the Mobile line over a two-year timeline running up to first delivery in 2020.

“This partnership extends our commitment to Québec and to all of Canadian aerospace, and we are very glad to welcome so many C Series teammates into the extended Team Airbus," said Airbus CEO Tom Enders. "The strength of the entire Airbus organization will be behind the C Series. Not only will that enable this outstanding aircraft to fulfill its market potential, but we are convinced the addition of the C Series to our overall aircraft product offering brings significant value to Airbus, our customers, and shareholders.”