The U.S. Commerce Department will decide Sept. 25 if it believes, as does its complainant Boeing, that Bombardier is “dumping” CSeries airliners on the market thanks to Canadian subsidies but the decision could have a ripple effect through the Canadian aviation industry. Whether that’s a good or bad thing will depend largely on the federal government’s reaction to that decision. Bombardier sold 75 CSeries to Delta Airlines, with an option for 50 more, and while the unit cost of the aircraft has never been released it’s generally understood that Delta got major discounts. Whether those discounts were made possible by the injection of cash from Canadian and Quebec governments will be the focus of the Commerce Department. Ottawa has politicized the process, however.
Earlier this year, the federal government threatened to walk away from a deal with Boeing to buy 18 Super Hornet fighters to fill a “capability gap” while the long process of replacing the CF-18 fighter fleet grinds on. The 18 aircraft will likely cost about $60 million each plus maintenance, training, and operational costs. The deal has been heavily criticized as an expensive and even unnecessary stopgap. Boeing does a lot of business in Canada and the impact of that kind of retaliation could be widespread if the world’s biggest planemaker decides to strike back. An all-out war between Canada and Boeing could also open the door for other aviation companies to fill the inevitable gaps and opportunities that would create.