While Airbus scored a marketing coup by debuting the A350 just days before the Paris Air Show, Canadian manufacturer Bombardier has done the opposite by pushing back first flight of the delayed CSeries to the end of June.
The CSeries has won 160 orders so far and could have done with the publicity that a Paris flight or static display would have garnered, especially since rival Embraer has already racked up about 700 orders for its in-service 190/195 series.
Of course, Bombardier hopes the 110-160-seat CSeries will open a new front in the aircraft market by competing for the first time with Airbus and Boeing narrowbodies.
The OEM expects 300 orders by the time the CSeries enters service in mid-2014, but has said it won’t “give away” the aircraft to gain market share.
Some analysts, however, have questioned whether airlines will be tempted away from proven 737 and A320 airframes unless Bombardier offers steep discounts.
At list prices the 737 MAX 7 and A319neo cost $82 million and $92 million respectively, while the similarly sized CS300 is tagged at $72 million.
Much rides on whether the CSeries and its geared turbofan engines will deliver its promised 20 per cent fuel burn advantage, a claim that Boeing and Airbus have cast doubt upon.
If the aircraft doesn’t deliver that efficiency it will find itself in a lonely part of the market. Airbus’ smallest narrowbody, the A318, has never been popular and the A319neo, with which the CS300 is intended to compete, only has 26 orders compared to the 500 of the A321neo, Airbus’ largest new narrowbody.
News that American Airlines and Southwest are already trying to cram more seats into their current 737s and MD80s will heap further discomfort on the Bombardier planners who saw a potential market for almost 7,000 aircraft between 100 and 150 seats.