Bombardier CS300 plane to have 160-passenger capacity

MIRABEL, Que. – Bombardier Aerospace says its CS300 passenger jets will have a capacity of 160 seats, up from the previously announced 149, in an effort to improve the economics of operating the new planes.

The company (TSX:BBD.B) announced the increased capacity during a briefing on Thursday at its facility in Mirabel, north of Montreal, where officials showed off the first completed CSeries plane.

The first flight of the long-awaited CSeries jets — Bombardier’s new family of planes for commercial airlines — is expected by the end of June.

The CSeries 100 jet will have 100 to 125 seats and the CSeries 300 jet will have 135 to 160 seats.

The CSeries planes are larger than Bombardier’s older CRJ regional jets and Q400 turboprop planes, which have fewer than 100 seats.

They are also partially made from advanced composite materials that promise to deliver a 15 per cent reduction in cash operating costs and a 20 per cent fuel burn reduction.

”The CSeries aircraft is a game-changer in a changing economic environment, and following keen customer interest and market trends, we have enhanced the productivity of the CS300 aircraft further by offering the extra capacity seating option,” said Mike Arcamone, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

A Russian leasing company announced last month it has agreed to purchase up to 42 Bombardier CSeries aircraft in a potential $3.42-billion deal.

Ilyushin Finance Co. is seeking to acquire 32 of the CS300 planes at a list price of about US$2.56 billion, and has options for 10 additional planes, making it one of the largest CSeries orders to date.

As of last Dec. 31, Bombardier had booked orders and commitments for 382 CSeries aircraft that include firm orders for 148 CSeries airliners.

Arcamone said Bombardier should achieve its goal of 300 firm orders by the time the jets are fully operational next year.

”I am confident that with the number of clients we have at the moment — 14, and we want to have 20 or so — we will get these 300 firm orders,” he said.

”The fact the plane will have its first flight by the end of June and we’ll have more momentum that will propel us forward in terms of customers and sales, (makes us) very confident.”