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Qatar Airways holds off on Bombardier's C Series jet

Qatar Airways, which first expressed interest in the C Series jet two years ago, aims to resume talks in about six months.

Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press/Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press

Qatar Airways is putting on hold its talks with Bombardier Inc. about the possible purchase of the aerospace manufacturer's all-new C Series jetliner.

The decision doesn't help Montreal-based Bombardier's attempts to win a high-profile Middle East buyer for the fledgling C Series. The area is a much sought-after region for aerospace manufacturers because of its emergence as a major growth market and global hub.

Qatar Airways says it has too much on its plate right now with other expansion-related concerns and needs more time before making a decision.

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Qatar Airways spokesman Updesh Kapur said in an e-mail message Monday that the airline currently has "a lot of aircraft projects. Our resources are tied to these so we will look at other programs at a later date."

The carrier aims to resume talks with Bombardier in about six months' time, he said.

Among other projects, Qatar Airways is preparing to take delivery in July of its first Boeing 787. It is also dealing with wing component cracks on the new Airbus A380s it has ordered.

Qatar Airways first expressed interest in the C Series narrow-body jet about two years ago and there was speculation it would announce a purchase at last year's Paris Air Show. Qatar Airways chief executive officer Akbar al-Baker recently reiterated his interest in the C Series.

Bombardier spokesman Marc Duchesne said the company remains "on very good terms with [Mr. al-Baker] "We understand the situation. We'll be here when he's ready to discuss a potential order."

So far, Bombardier has 11 customers who have put in firm orders for 138 C Series jets; it has a combined total of 272 firm orders, options and purchase rights, and letters of intent for another 45 units.

Bombardier has said it wants 30 customers and more than 300 firm orders by 2013, when the C Series is scheduled to enter service.

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The C Series will bump up the company from the regional- and business-jet and turboprop markets into the big leagues occupied by giants Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS.

Qatar also announced on Monday its intention to buy 10 of Bombardier's luxury Global 7000 and Global 8000 business jets in a deal valued at about $700-million (U.S.).

The airline is also launching a marketing alliance with Bombardier's fractional ownership unit, Flexjet.

Separately, Bombardier said it's laying the groundwork for the eventual recovery of the lighter business jet market with plans for two upgraded Learjet models next year, the Learjet 70 and Learjet 75.

The new planes will be fitted with advanced avionics and more powerful, fuel-saving engines.

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About the Author
Quebec Business Correspondent

Bertrand has been covering Quebec business and finance since 2000. Before joining The Globe and Mail in 2000, he was the Toronto-based national business correspondent for Southam News. He has a B.A. from McGill University and a Bachelor of Applied Arts from Ryerson. More

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