Bombardier’s long-awaited C-Series entered service with Swiss Global Airlines on Friday.
The state-of-the-art Canadian airliner opened its career with a short flight from Zurich to Paris.
The Swiss Global Bombardier is the first of 30 C-Series jets the airline has on order, split evenly between the smaller CS100 and the larger CS300.
“I am extremely proud that we are the first airline in the world to put this totally newly developed aircraft into service,” Swiss Global’s Chief Commercial Officer Markus Binkert said in a statement. “The Bombardier CS100 is a class act in every respect: comfort, economics, and environmental credentials.”
According to Airways Mag Managing Editor Chris Sloan, the CS100’s first flight with Swiss went flawlessly, apart from a slight delay caused by a glitch while switching from ground power to onboard electricity. Passengers were served a snack of trout mousse and black forest roulade, reported Sloan, who was on the 54-minute flight.
Swiss Global’s Bombardier CS100 is outfitted with 101 seats (30 business-class and 71 economy-class) and will be replacing the airline’s aging Avro RJ100 regional jets.
The Bombardier C-Series is positioned to compete against the two best-selling airliners of all time – the Airbus A320 family and the Boeing 737 family. Capable of ferrying between 100 and 150 passengers, the Canadian jet is the most viable threat Airbus and Boeing have encountered in 20 years.
Over the the next few years, several manufacturers from around the world will launch aircraft aimed to compete with Airbus and Boeing. But Bombardier is the first to enter service and the only one that will compete head-to-head within one of their most important market segments.
Not since the demise of McDonnell Douglas and its MD-80 and MD-90 in the late ’90s has there been a third major player to challenge the Airbus-Boeing duopoly. (McDonnell Douglas was purchased by Boeing for $13 billion in 1997.)
With the C-Series, Bombardier is poised to do just that. However, the Quebec-based firm has a long way to go. Currently, Bombardier has more than 300 firm orders for the plane, while Airbus and Boeing each have backlogs with 10 times that amount for their latest A320 and 737 variants.
What Bombardier has going for it is the fact that the C-Series is widely viewed as a great plane – receiving critical acclaim for its fuel efficiency, range, and advanced technology.
“The CS300 kills the Boeing 737 MAX 7 and the Airbus A319neo in terms of ability and efficiency,” Airways senior business analyst Vinay Bhaskara told Business Insider in an interview last year.
Unfortunately, Bombardier has also been plagued by development and financial setbacks caused by the multibillion-dollar C-Series program. At the same time, the company struggled to find buyers for the state-of-the-art jet – especially among the world’s A-list airlines.
Air Canada and Delta’s show of support for the aircraft and its manufacturer should allay the fears of smaller customers who are hesitant to buy because of Bombardier’s precarious financial condition.
In addition, the CS300 is expected to be delivered to AirBaltic by the end of the year.