Bombardier eyes Asian markets amid US trade dispute

Bombardier is betting on fast-growing markets like India to boost sales of its Q400 and CSeries narrow-body planes at a time when the Canadian planemaker faces a trade row over sales to the US that could affect thousands of jobs in Belfast.

“The company is very focused on expanding into Asia, as we see Asia, and India for sure, as the growth engines of the sector,” said Francois Cognard, head of Asia-Pacific sales, adding this would be its focus region irrespective of how a heated trade spat with larger rival Boeing pans out.

Mr Cognard said he saw India’s regional connectivity scheme as “well designed” and likely to boost demand for its aircraft in the country.

The US Commerce Department last week slapped preliminary anti-subsidy duties of 220% on Bombardier’s new jets, after a complaint from Boeing, which could effectively triple the price of the aircraft and shut it out of the US market if upheld.

Bombardier plants in Belfast, which employ more than 4,200 people, build the wings for the C-Series aircraft. “We see this as an abuse of trade laws by Boeing to attempt to block us from penetrating the US market,” Mr Cognard said.

The US jetmaker alleges the CSeries would not exist without hundreds of millions of dollars in launch aid from the governments of Canada and Britain, or a $2.5bn (€2.1bn) equity infusion from the province of Quebec and its largest pension fund in 2015.

The commerce department’s penalty against Bombardier will only take effect if the US International Trade Commission rules in Boeing’s favour.

“We expect the final ruling on this early next year,” said Mr Cognard, adding its customers were not concerned about the spat and more focused on the economics of the jet.

India is one of the world’s fastest growing aviation markets and the government’s launch of the regional connectivity scheme last year to boost air connectivity to smaller towns and cities, is seen as a boon for small planemakers such as Bombardier and its European rival ATR.

Bombardier last week finalised a deal to sell up to 50 Q400 planes to India’s SpiceJet valued at $1.7bn by list prices, its largest single order to date for the turboprop plane which will boost its presence in the country.

Rival ATR, the market leader in turboprops, has also secured a provisional order for 50 ATR 72-600 aircraft, worth over $1.3bn at list price, from Indigo, India’s biggest airline by market share.


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