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Bombardier books Q400 orders at Dubai airshow

Employees work on a Q400 NextGen aircraft at the Bombardier Aerospace production facility in Toronto Friday, November 12, 2010.

Darren Calabrese/The Globe and Mail

Two companies have signed on to buy several Q400 turboprop aircraft from Bombardier Inc. in deals and agreements that could be valued at up to $423-million (U.S.).

Montreal-based Bombardier made the announcement Monday at the Dubai Airshow, where at least one observer believes the company could also announce a much-needed order for its new C Series jet.

Abidjan-based airline Air Côte d'Ivoire has ordered two short-haul Q400 NextGen regional planes and has options on two more, Bombardier said.

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The firm order is worth about $69-million based on list prices. If the options are exercised, the value would rise to about $141-million. Discounting off the list price for customers is standard practice.

In a separate announcement Monday, Bombardier said leasing company Palma Holding Ltd. has signed a letter of intent to buy up to eight dual-class Q400 NextGen aircraft. The agreement covers four firm orders and four options.

The firm orders are for planes to be leased to Ethiopian Airlines.

The value of the four firm orders and four options is about $282-million.

Palma said it is the first Middle Eastern lessor – and the first lessor worldwide for the dual-class configuration – for the NextGen model.

On the second day at Dubai – a major event for manufacturers' sales announcements in the rapidly growing Middle Eastern market – Bombardier had yet to unveil any new orders for the narrowbody C Series, which is currently undergoing flight testing and has been slow filling up the order book.

But RBC Dominion Securities analyst Walter Spracklin said in a research note Monday that he sees "a real opportunity for Bombardier to secure a C Series order from a Middle Eastern airline" at the show.

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Bombardier management noted last month that they are seeing interest pick up in the C Series from customers in the Middle East, Mr. Spracklin said.

"There have been several prospective customers in the region since the launch of the C Series program; and this could just be the air show in which one transacts."

Bombardier is targeting 300 firm orders by the time the C Series enters service in September, 2014, but so far the total number of firm orders is 177.

The last customer order for the C Series was in June.

Meanwhile, giants Boeing Co. and Airbus SAS – both of which Bombardier is bumping up against with its 110- to 160-seat C Series jet – have been unveiling huge orders at Dubai totalling tens of billions of dollars from big-spending Gulf carriers.

Some analysts think Bombardier's target of 2014 for service entry is too optimistic and that a more realistic date is the first quarter of 2015.

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The C Series's first flight was in September, after a series of delays pushed back the date.

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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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