Northern Ireland

Bombardier: Firm held talks with rival Airbus on CSeries

The CSeries is Bombardier's first attempt at larger passenger planes Image copyright Reuters
Image caption The CSeries is Bombardier's first attempt at larger passenger planes

The aerospace firm Bombardier has confirmed it held talks with rival Airbus about selling a stake in its CSeries project.

The CSeries is a narrow-bodied passenger jet.

It is due to come into service next year, three years late and £1.2bn over budget. Airbus and Bombardier said the talks had now ended without agreement.

Bombardier is based in Canada but it is Northern Ireland's largest manufacturing employer.

John Campbell, BBC News NI Business Editor

Traditionally, Bombardier's strengths have been in business planes - it makes the famous Learjet.

More than 10 years ago, it decided to move into bigger planes and challenge the Boeing/Airbus duopoly.

It created the CSeries and there is a consensus that it is a very good, modern, fuel efficient plane.

The problem is they have not sold enough of them.

Bombardier wanted to sell about 300 by the time they bring them into service next year. They have only sold 243.

The project is also about three years late and it has run about £1bn over budget.

That has put massive pressure on the whole Bombardier company.

Bombardier is now clearly looking for a CSeries partner.

The talks with Airbus broken down but, it says, it is still looking at 'potential participation in industry consolidation.'

The company's balance sheet continues to be under pressure because of the CSeries.

Reuters have reported the firm is talking to the Quebec state pension fund about making a fresh investment.

Ultimately, what it boils down to is that they have to sell more of the CSeries and it has been a long time now since they have had an order.

The wings for the CSeries are made at Bombardier's Belfast plant.

Reuters had reported that the talks had explored if Airbus and Bombardier could set up a joint venture to spin-off the CSeries project.

The CSeries problems has made it a very challenging two years for Bombardier.

There has been an overhaul in its top management team and even speculation that the entire commercial aircraft division could be put up for sale.

Production of smaller Bombardier jets has also been cut back causing jobs to be lost.

About 800 jobs in Belfast have gone within the past year, mostly among its contractor labour force.

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