Bombardier Inc. appears close to a breakthrough order for its new C Series airplane.
The Montreal-based transportation giant is in final discussions with U.S. carrier Delta Air Lines Inc. on an order for as many as 125 of the planes, The Wall Street Journal reported.
The newspaper said the deal being discussed is for a firm order for 75 planes and options on another 50.
A firm order for that number of planes would be worth about $6.3-billion (U.S.) at list prices, although industry analysts believe any deal would be at a discount from the list price of 50 per cent or more.
A firm order for the 75 planes would be the largest single order for the plane and a huge boost for the C Series, which is Bombardier's attempt to enter the narrow-bodied segment of the large commercial jet market, where it has run up against heavy discounting from the entrenched duopoly of Airbus Industrie and Boeing Co.
The C Series is more than two years behind its original delivery schedule and more than $2-billion over budget.
Delta is among the savviest of airplane purchasers. One industry source said on Thursday that Delta has likely picked up the 40 firm orders for the larger CS300 airplane that were being held by Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which went into Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year.
Delta is offering to provide debtor-in-possession financing for Republic and court filings show that the companies have reached a settlement on a lawsuit that was outstanding before the Chapter 11 filing.
Officials from Bombardier and Delta refused to confirm that they are in final talks.
Delta officials said in a conference call on Thursday that they had nothing to announce, but that they are studying medium-term replacements for their aged MD-88 narrow-body aircraft.
Chief executive officer Ed Bastian told analysts on the call that he hoped to have more information during an investor day scheduled for next month.