Bombardier expects to begin delivering CSeries aircraft to Delta Air Lines this year, saying there is no longer any impediment to delivering CS100s straight from its Mirabel, Canada, final assembly line to the Atlanta-based airline.

“Clearly, the Delta aircraft are in the skyline for 2018,” Bombardier CEO Alain Bellemare told analysts Feb. 15 as he presented the Canadian company’s 2017 financial results. Bellemare said the recent 4-0 ruling by the US International Trade Commission (ITC) negating proposed tariffs on CSeries exports to the US removes any restrictions on CSeries deliveries. The ruling gives Bombardier the “ability to shift the aircraft out of Mirabel to Delta,” Bellemare said.

The uncertainty surrounding the US Commerce Department’s proposed duties on the CSeries forced Bombardier and Delta to delay the originally planned April 2018 start of CS100 deliveries to Delta, which has 75 CS100s on firm order. With the tariff issue hanging over Bombardier, it was thought deliveries to Delta would have to wait until Bombardier and Airbus, which has agreed to take a majority stake in the CSeries program, established a CSeries final assembly line (FAL) in Mobile, Alabama, alongside Airbus’ existing A320 family US FAL.

Bellemare emphasized that plans for the Mobile FAL are “moving full speed ahead,” explaining, “We believe it’s the right strategy to have a US FAL to serve US customers.” But at least the first batch of Delta deliveries can now come from Mirabel, he said.

The ITC ruling “clears the path for us to support Delta this year,” Bellemare said. Bombardier is working “through the logistics” of CS100 deliveries with Delta, and will soon be able to finalize a delivery plan, he said, adding that the ITC ruling “clears the way to finalize our plans” with Delta.

Bellemare expects the Bombardier-Airbus CSeries deal to be approved by regulators and close later this year. “Integration planning is going extremely well,” he said. “We are ready to hit the ground running once we close, including construction of the Alabama FAL as soon as possible.”

Bombardier reported a 2017 net loss of $553 million, a 44% improvement over a $981 million net deficit in 2016. Bellemare urged investors to focus on the improvement, noting that 2017 completed the “second full year of our turnaround plan” and Bombardier is “exceeding our commitments” in terms of its financial performance. “2018 will be a pivotal year for Bombardier,” he said, predicting that the company will move into “a strong growth phase” this year.

Aaron Karp/Aviation Daily