Bombardier’s big gamble is finally paying off but it’s doing so for Airbus. The CSeries airliner will become the financial success Bombardier always hoped it would be but as the A220. Last week, Airbus announced firm orders for 120 A220-300s, the largest and most profitable version of the state-of-the-art airliner. Jet Blue signed the paperwork for 60 aircraft and start-up Moxy is buying another 60. Those two orders likely pushed the multi-billion-dollar clean sheet project into the black but it will be Airbus that reaps most of those rewards.
Many of the aircraft will be built at the same facilities Bombardier created for CSeries at Mirabel and the same workforce will get those benefits. But to ensure access to the U.S. market, Airbus will build an assembly line in Mobile, Alabama and the aircraft for Jet Blue and Moxy will be built there. Deliveries of the first of 75 aircraft to Delta Airlines from the Mirabel plant started in October. It was the Delta deal that ultimately led to Airbus assuming the CSeries project. Acting on a complaint from Boeing, the U.S. imposed crippling duties on the CSeries and Airbus tentatively agreed to take on the project and build the Delta planes in Mobile. The U.S. International Trade Commission unexpectedly overturned the tariffs, allowing Canadian-built aircraft to be sold to Delta but Airbus and Bombardier continued negotiations and Airbus took over in July.