Saturday, July 19, 2008

Bombardier launches fuel efficient jet


The Bombardier CSeries: Marketed as a "green jet" (image from Wikipedia).

Life hasn't been easy for the airlines lately. As fuel prices wreak havoc with the industry's bottom line, carriers have responded by dumping older, less efficient jets, lowering flying speeds and carrying less weight - not to mention charging for checked bags.

This week, however, the airlines got a bit of good news when Canadian conglomerate Bombardier announced its intention to release the CSeries in 2013, a passenger jet which it claims will use 20% less fuel than its nearest competitor.

Aviation Industry Responds to High Fuel Prices

While the jet will be marketed as the "greenest" model on the market, the real attraction for the airline industry is the cash that they will save on fuel expenses. According to analyst Jacques Kavafian, the CSeries can be expected to save airlines up to $3 million over a Boeing 737, and even more over older models.

According to Bombardier, German airline Lufthansa has already expressed interest in buying up several of the jets. Carrying between 110 and 130 passengers, the cost of a CSeries plane will be approximately $46.7 million.

There are signs that other aircraft manufacturers are also getting the message. James McNerney, CEO of Bombardier's American competitor Boeing, told the French press last week that the rising cost of fuel will raise demand in the future for more fuel efficient airplanes.

Too Little, Too Late for the Airlines?

However, by the time the CSeries hits the market, the industry might look quite different. According to the International Air Transport Association, the crisis in the industry has already caused 25 airlines to go bankrupt during the first half of 2008, and industry bigwigs are preparing themselves for more casualties, including, according to Virgin Atlantic CEO, "one of the big American carriers." And, adding to the pressure on the airline industry, the EU intends to begin regulating emissions from airlines in 2012.

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