JetBlue latest U.S. airline to back Bombardier in fight with Boeing

MONTREAL _ JetBlue is the latest U.S. airline to back Bombardier in its trade dispute with Boeing, ahead of the expected imposition of preliminary export duties on shipments to the United States.

The airline has urged the U.S. International Trade Commission to deny Boeing’s petition, saying imposing tariffs on the CSeries would harm competition and result in higher airfares.

Even though JetBlue neither flies nor has ordered Boeing or Bombardier (TSX:BBD.B) planes, chief executive Robin Hayes said Boeing’s petition seeking countervailing and anti-dumping duties are a threat to the airline’s ability to innovate and provide benefits to passengers.

“JetBlue’s consistent advocacy for unfettered free market competition and access requires us to urge the Commission to reject the petitions and permit free and unfettered competition in the aircraft manufacturing sector as JetBlue brought to the domestic airline sector,” he wrote in a letter dated Sunday to the commission.

Just as competition from Airbus drove innovation among larger aircraft, Hayes said the CSeries will improve competition with Embraer which also makes smaller aircraft.

JetBlue’s fleet includes both Airbus and Embraer jets.

The letter is similar to submissions by Spirit Airlines and Sun Country Airlines.

The U.S. Department of Commerce is expected to release its preliminary countervailing duty decision Tuesday. However, it won’t have any impact until Bombardier delivers the first CSeries aircraft to Delta Air Lines next year.

Hayes said JetBlue is monitoring the CSeries developments because of the plane’s interior which has won praise and its engine which reduces operating costs.