MONTREAL (Reuters) - Airbus SE (AIR.PA) expects to sell “thousands” of Bombardier Inc’s (BBDb.TO) new CSeries aircraft, capturing half the global market for smaller single-aisle commercial jets, Chief Executive Tom Enders said on Friday.
Speaking at a business event in Montreal, he also said the lightweight, carbon-composite jets, which seat 110-to-130 people, would create new jobs in Canada and the United States.
Europe’s largest planemaker on Monday agreed to take a majority stake in the CSeries program for $1, a move expected to reduce costs while bolstering the plane’s sales and giving Canada’s Bombardier a possible way out of a damaging trade dispute with Boeing Co (BA.N) and U.S. regulators.
“I see no reason why we should not be able to capture 50 percent of that market,” Enders said. “I think we will sell thousands.”
The jets, which cost $6 billion to develop, have won performance accolades but failed to secure a sale in 18 months.
On Thursday, the head of a major U.S. airplane leasing company said the Airbus deal boosted confidence in the CSeries program, but was unlikely to drive a flurry of immediate sales.
The leasing executive said potential customers were likely to remain cautious until the trade dispute is closer to being resolved and the venture with Airbus closes in late 2018.
The CSeries faces a potentially crippling 300 percent duty on sales to U.S. customers due to a complaint from Boeing that the plane was unfairly subsidized and sold below cost in a 2016 deal with Delta Air Lines Inc (DAL.N).
The case will be decided by U.S. trade officials early next year, but Airbus has said any CSeries jets intended for the U.S. market would be built at its production facility in Alabama, potentially allowing the planes to avoid punitive duties.
Enders said the deal between Bombardier and Airbus should be supported by the U.S. government because it would create more American jobs.
“That’s what President (Donald) Trump wants. How can he be against it?” Enders said.
Some analysts have suggested that Airbus’s 50.01 percent stake in the CSeries could reverberate throughout the aerospace industry, triggering a competitive response from other planemakers, including Boeing itself.
Commercial aerospace has four main powers dominated by Airbus and Boeing, which share the market above 150 seats.
Brazil’s Embraer (EMBR3.SA) and Canada’s Bombardier compete in the market between 100 and 150 seats as well as in the market for smaller regional jets.
Enders, who addressed Montreal’s business leaders with Bombardier Chief Executive Alain Bellemare, said the CSeries deal could foster other new partnerships but did not elaborate.
“New alliances will be formed,” he said.
Editing by Bernadette Baum and Tom Brown