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Report On Business Bombardier said to hold talks on C Series order from JetBlue

A JetBlue flight takes off from Long Beach Airport in Long Beach, Calif., Tuesday, Oct. 25, 2011.

Reed Saxon/The Associated Press

Bombardier Inc., struggling to find established airlines as buyers for its new C Series airliner, is in talks about a possible order from JetBlue Airways Corp., two people familiar with the matter said.

The discussions are continuing, and no decision has been reached, said the people, who asked not to be identified because the deliberations are private. JetBlue's fleet now consists of aircraft from Airbus Group SE and Embraer SA.

Signing up JetBlue would let Bombardier make good on a pledge to add well-known carriers to a roster of C Series buyers now dominated by lessors and small airlines. The only North American airline with a firm order is Republic Airways Holdings Inc., which said last year there was "no place" in its business model for the C Series.

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The C Series is Bombardier's biggest-ever jet, a step up in size from the plane maker's signature regional aircraft. Now running more than two years late, the C Series hasn't won a firm sale since September, 2014, and has drained cash as development costs ballooned $2-billion to $5.4-billion.

"We do not have any comment specific to Bombardier's C Series, but it is routine for us to meet with aircraft manufacturers," said Doug McGraw, a spokesman for New York-based JetBlue.

Bombardier is also in talks with Air Canada regarding the C Series, said one of the people familiar with the company's plans. A C Series test aircraft was recently on display at Toronto's Lester B. Pearson International Airport, Air Canada's main international hub. Air Canada decided in 2014 to keep some of its Embraer planes after considering the C Series as an alternative.

Isabelle Arthur, an Air Canada spokeswoman in Montreal, didn't immediately return a call seeking comment. Isabelle Gauthier, a Bombardier spokeswoman, declined to comment about discussions with potential customers.

JetBlue operates 60 Embraer E190s with 100 all-coach seats and has about 150 larger, single-aisle Airbus planes, most of them the top-selling A320 model. In 2013, the airline pushed back an order for 24 additional Embraers to as late as 2022 amid a focus on larger, more fuel-efficient planes.

While JetBlue has expressed openness to the idea of moving just to Airbus planes from the A320 family, it also has said the smaller E190 is best suited for short-haul, high-frequency routes it flies out of Boston.

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