Bombardier wins breakthrough C Series order, from Delta

April 28, 2016, (c) Leeham Co.: At long last, after years of disappointment for that big, breakthrough order, Bombardier finally got it: a huge deal from a blue chip

Delta Air Lines ordered 75 CS100s and optioned 50 more. This is the breakthrough order Bombardier has been waiting years to receive. Source: Delta Air Lines.

airline, and one from North America: a firm order for 75 C30S100s and options for 50 more from Delta Air Lines.

Delta has conversion rights to the CS300. Bombardier now has more than 300 firm orders, although many of these are iffy, and commitments for up to 500 more.

This is the order that observers, analysts and aviation geeks have been waiting for during much of the development and production of the C Series.

The announcement came concurrently with highlights of BBD’s first quarter results.

The C Series program was launched in 2009 with an order for 30+30 from Lufthansa Group, for its Swiss International unit. After two-and-a-half years of delays and $2bn in cost overruns, the first CS100 is to enter service in July. Korean Airlines also ordered the aircraft, but other top-flight, blue chip orders proved elusive until January. That’s when Air Canada placed an order for 45+30 CS300s.

But the Air Canada order was viewed skeptically as a government-pressured deal that included a quid-pro-quo in dropping requirements of the Air Canada Act of 1988. This law required AC to maintain certain facilities–and jobs–in Western Canada as part of government approval of AC’s shift from a government company to a private one. AC wanted to eliminate these in cost-savings move, but was blocked from doing so by the Act. The government agreed to drop the Act, although this challenged in court and remains an overhang.

Air Canada hasn’t firmed up its January Letter of Intent, although it’s expected to do so this year. Air Canada and Bombardier denied any government pressure or nexus for the order.

BBD missed winning a highly anticipated deal with United Airlines the same month when Boeing swooped in to win an order for 40 737-700s for a remarkably low price reported to be around $22m. Other considerations were involved as well. Having missed this blue chip customer, eyes turned toward Delta. Anticipation was high, and this became the must-win deal for Bombardier.

The CS100 has been a slow seller compared with the CS300. The Delta order is a boost for the CS100. The conversion rights to the CS300 validate what was likely a key element to the deal: the ability to upsize in the future. This probably helped reduce the chances for Embraer to win the deal with the E195-E2. There is no growth opportunity for the E195; the E2 was stretched 12 seats to a maximum 133 in all-coach configuration. The CS300 is a 149-seat two class airplane and 160 seats in a shoe-horn configuration.

There was no mention of the prospect of an even larger CS500 in the press releases from BBD and Delta.

43 Comments on “Bombardier wins breakthrough C Series order, from Delta

  1. This is very good news but a surprising news , right? I thought it was the CS300 which was a challenge ! What does that mean ? The CS100 will replace what type of aircraft in Delta? There are many unanswered questions, it seems to me … Does this mean that Delta will buy other Bombardier aircraft ? More Cs300 ? CS500 ?

    • In fact, one explanation may lie in the Delta press release: “while maintaining a focus on prudent capital deployment…

    • BBD is still many years and issues away from being in a position to even consider thinking about a possible CS500.

      • No they are not. they can think and work on the early design aspects without taking resources from current ramp up.

        You can bet they have the plan ready to move into design engineering stage as soon as the 300 is certified

        • Well, we’ll see. IMHO, they’re still deep in the mire. The pie-in-the-sky CS500 is a long way off.

          The DL order is nice, but 40 of those 75 are taken over from Republic. Many other ‘orders’ are far from guaranteed. BBD still has a long way to go to prove itself capable of delivering the CS in big numbers. Oh, and making money on them.

    • The answer is, I suspect, partly right here in the above “The CS100 has been a slow seller compared with the CS300. The Delta order is a boost for the CS100.”

      In the newer article on BBD earnings this a.m., Leeham is estimating BBD is making a loss of $4M per plane sold to Delta. I’d imagine the airline pushed hard for this price based on the CS100 sales pace.

      It also in my mind puts price pressure on Embraer if they want to try and sell 190-E2s or 195-E2s to them. Or even follow-on or replacement orders for the E175s now flying for DL. Atlanta has in the past few years tended to favor the CR9 (though I wish from a pax perspective they’d go in for more E-jets). This ramps up the BBD-EMB competition, which is smart.

      Finally, the CS100 has actually been delivered to a customer and should have circa 2 years of in-service life with Swiss before Delta takes their first. That seems conservatively appropriate for DL’s management style.

      n.b. We should watch for the rumored cancellation of DL’s order thru Boeing for 20 used E190s. I’m not convinced, but some gabbers think it is coming.

      • Well I should have read DL’s press release. “With the order of the C Series, Delta will no longer induct the E190 into its fleet as planned.”
        Curious wording, it doesn’t say cancelled. Does this mean DL will take the E190s and immediately sub-lease them to someone else?
        They took them to get a deal on some 739s, and maybe Boeing is saying take ’em or pay up. Hmmm.

    • I think it speaks to the tight supply of 717s. Delta has been reported to be seeking more of them, but there are probably less than 20 that might come available in the next few years.

  2. Most likely a natural replacement for the 717’s and some regional jets. Delta cannot fly Douglas Aircrafts forever MD-88/MD-90/MD-95’s. It is good for competition if Canadair/Bombardier survives the price Delta pays.

    • The MD-88/90/95 and 717 would have to be replaced by the CS300 and CS500. But this order is mainly for the CS100. This is an indication that Delta is upgauging its existing fleet of CRJ aircraft rather than replacing its larger models. But the door is now opened and when time comes there is a good chance Delta will want to standardize its fleet with the C Series covering the entire 100-150 seat segment. So there is a good chance that in the future we will see the CS100, CS300 and CS500 in Delta’s fleet.

      • A lot of smaller destinations and city pairs arent really growing that fast so buying in at a similar size to its MD and 717 fleet makes sense. Adding frequency is seen as suiting the customers more than a bigger plane.
        Like you I see Delta wanting a growth path with larger versions to reduce the types it operates.
        Delta, the king of the 5 across plane, wants to retain its crown

        • Anyone know how well the CS100 will be off short runways? HVN has 5600 feet and can’t seem to find new service apart from the Dash-8’s to PHL. Several carriers in the past surveyed the airport , NW twice proposed HVN-DTW, once with DC-9’s and once with CRJ’s. Both times the weight restrictions at would have been too much when the weather was uncooperative.

          • London City Airport is 4900ft… The CS100 will be certified in early 2017.

          • HVN is close enough to HPN and BDL, and slightly further away is PVD and the New York City airports, which might be the bigger reason why there’s no new service.

  3. Delta, Lufthansa group, Korean and Gulf Air is a start. Now get the first 20 out of the door, CS300 TC, and others will seriously consider.

  4. There are few outside those with a vested interest at Boeing, Embraer and Airbus who will not applaud this order.

    Well done BBD

  5. I was surprised in that Delta seems to go for proven models. I was hoping for a Boeing 737-7.5MAX order which would be a better fit replacement for the MD80’s which are getting quite old, but then again, they just seem to soldier on.

    • Why would you use a heavyt frame aircraft twhne you can use an optiomes mdium reange one?

      Keep in mind cross US flying (3000 mile plus) is 737 and A320 area (and shorter as well).

      but 1500 miles? that’s why the C series is ideal, it can do the long mission if needed, but it shines in shorter and beats the pants off the big heavy ones on lading fees, fuel efficiency and less cost for lighter wear out parts (tires and brakes and lading gear)

      And it has a upside future as the GTF gets better and better.

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  7. The deal with Delta includes conversion rights to the CS300. Common tactic is to order the smaller version first so that the deposit is smaller but then switch to the larger version (CS300) later.

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  12. Well Done, Alain Bellemare ! Welcome to the much envied very snob and reserved exclusive CLUB OF FEEDER AIRCRAFT OEM, hear hear !!

    Shortly a Tsunami of follow-up commitments will flow into Bombardier, from all those who were waiting to see if BBD would make it or not.

    The answer is clear, voiced by Delta and Air Canada : we’ve proved that we are in this game to stay, Airbus like it or not, Boeing non obstante.

    A bitter after-taste from this Act III of the vaudeville Theater Play by Bombardier (to be or not to be, that is the Question) is why have Airbus and Boeing foresaken so many deep-discounted feeder aircraft sales, registering billions in ‘manque à gagner’ at no avail, if at the end they have failed with their strategy to sink the Baudouin Family’s endeavours. When you pretend to be a Strategist, you must come up with strategies that are winning, there is no room for failure at that level of gaming.

    As an after-wise remark, Airbus and Boeing should have gone through a no-compromise structural lipo-suction A319/A320 (resp. 737-700/-800) Light Weight re-specification, to make their smaller feeders opposite C Series much more effective, instead of hard-discounting the heavier aircraft and losing billions in lost revenue on sales. They had the choice : compete on quality or compete on price … they have chosen and they have lost the game. Shame on Mc Nerney and shame on Thomas Enders !

    • After many years of hard work on a great design CS100-300, often ridiculed by Mr Leahy and getting lots of sales off the back of Bombardier. Many airlines should thank Bombardier for, as a third player they saved money by using the CS300 as a possible third choice. Delta is for a third player to end the duopoly it won’t happened overnight but Bombardier the new kid on the block is here to stay. Bravo Delta for choosing the Cseries.

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  15. Frequent traveler:
    The magic about discounting and not investing is that you gain even more with planes that you did NOT sell than with the sold ones, just like here: BBD has to sell at losses and is now willing to do so, after not finding airlines that were willing to pay what they ve asked for. This gives A and B the opportunity to gain longer and more from the 737-8 and 320 as BBD has no funds to develop the C500 as a competitor.

    Can we elaborate what 4 million in this case really is? I mean, 4 million for an early plane is not much. More than normal.

    75 x 4 million for planes MSN 200 – 400 where you are supposed to finally make money, however, sounds quite bad.

  16. Seems like BBD is following strategy well, filling orders for the smallest model first with growth potential for airlines for two more stretches, similar to the 787-8.

    I figure in theory,
    4x Embraer 20 to 30 rows, 80 to 120 pass range
    5x CSeries 20 to 30 rows, 100 to 150 pass range
    6x 737A320 25 to 35 rows, 150 to 210 pass range

    The 5x fuselage has the growth potential to 150 that the 4x doesn’t.

    • I think the C Series could be more than 30 rows, for the MD-80/90 is already at 31 rows and the C Series has a wider fuselage and is not constrained by engines in the back; so it should have growth potential beyond the MD-80/90. I think the CS500 will already have at least 30 rows, if not 31. And with a new wing the fuselage could probably be stretched a little further into a CS700/900. There are no technical reasons why the A320/737 would have that many more rows than the C Series. More seats yes, because of the six-abreast. We have to keep in mind that the fuselage width of the C Series is in between the MD-80/90 and 737/A320. And the use of Aluminium-Lithium also gives more design flexibility to the engineers than the conventional aluminium that we find in the old MD-80/90, 737 and A320.

  17. As a Boeing and Airbus shareholder I say congratulations to Bbd. They have somebody to push them now. 737 max and A320 neo will be a 10-12 years airplane.

  18. Boeing actively blocked BBD at United. Investing approximately $15-25 mln * 40 aircraft = $.6-1.0bln in what stopped BBD for a few months.

    It was said one of the reasons for Airbus to launch the NEO was the CSeries. Looking back , it helped Airbus to establish market dominance in the NB segment. Since then, Leahy tried to play down the CSeries as a nice little airplane, but hardly relevant.

    After Airbus discussed cooperation with BBD last year, I’ve seen little responds from Airbus. Maybe they accepted that under 150 seats is not their segment, they are sold out for very long anyway and have their hands (more than) full delivering what they promised over the last 4 years..

    I think Airbus will keep quiet, no A320.5 to tackle the 738. No reason for interrupting your competitor wandering in the woods..

    • “It was said one of the reasons for Airbus to launch the NEO was the CSeries. Looking back , it helped Airbus to establish market dominance in the NB segment.”

      Until then there was an equilibrium between two players and two players only. Then came the C Series ,which shifted the power in favour of Airbus which was in a better position to adapt the A320 than Boeing was with the 737. Of couse these things don’t happen overnight and in the meantime Bombardier struggled while Airbus upgraded its offering in order to keep the C Series at bay. This offered Boeing a wonderful opportunity to raise up to the challenge by offering a successor to the 737 who’s best-before date had already passed. But they (McNerney) cowardly chose to sit on their past laurels. Look where this faithful decision took Boeing: The 737 order book is not only full but it has never been so large. That’s great! you say. Wrong! The balance has irremediably shifted: from 50/50 it went to 60/40 in favour of Airbus and does not appear to want to stop there as we previously thought. It will likely shift to 65/35, and then to 70/30, and then… I don’t know about the last ‘then’ but in the meantime Boeing has to reduce its margins to unprecedented levels. For sure this will allow Boeing to maintain respectable book-to-bill ratios for a while, but this is not sustainable because the 737 business case rests on a single model. And we all know that operators want maximum commonality. If you are a Southwest this is not an issue, but look where the wind is shifting: If an airline wants to renew its Boeing fleet what is available exactly at the lower end? The 737-8, period! On the other hand there is the brand new CS100 and CS300 in the 100-150 segment, including the upcoming CS500. And at the upper end there is the A320 and A321. So if an operator wants to maximize commonality with optimal flexibility there is one obvious solution: CS100 and CS300 at the lower end and A320 and A321 at the upper end, with the CS500 in between. That takes nothing away from the 737-8, which remains a remarkably competitive aircraft, but it has become an orphan. Boeing has effectively painted itself into a corner.

      • A winner for say 2022 and beyond (with much more public and government emphasis on global fossil fuel and carbon emissions savings) will be along Bjorn’s CS500 study lines but maybe even more stretch — trading off more capacity for less range. I like 170, maybe 180 passengers in single class using his slim line seats at 31′ pitch which he says are equivalent to 32″ with older seats. 2000 nm range is fine ; other airplanes can fly the few percent of longer missions. This CS model might beat 737-7, 7.5 and 8 MAX models by 12-15% in fossil fuel burned and tons of CO2 emitted in 500-2000 nm single cclass flights. It could fly slower too. Bjorn could estimate the percent savings vs 737 MAX and A320neo too.

        Now what do you think a small Boeing NGA for 2025-2026 would look like?

        • “Now what do you think a small Boeing NGA for 2025-2026 would look like?”

          If the Boeing engineers do a good job it will be very similar to the C Series, except that it will be a six-abreast. For there is nothing I can see in the foreseeable future in terms of new technologies that could bring any significant improvement to that aircraft. I believe the Bombardier engineers have extracted maximum design potential from currently available technologies. Like Bjorn Fehrm has brilliantly summarized in a previous post: “C Series is an aircraft project that has got a lot of tricky technical decisions right. It’s hard to find where they should have taken another path.”

        • > Now what do you think a small Boeing NGA for 2025-2026 would look like?

          It’s not going to play in the C-series sandbox – think ~200 seats, either narrow-body or small widebody (2-2-2?), tech cribbed from 787, 777X, 747-8. Replacement for the 757, A321neoLR fighter. ETOPS at launch. BOE will need to nail timing for this esp if the worldwide aviation market outgrows the A320/737-8

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