BUSINESS

‘Nice Little Airplane': Airbus Exec Disses Bombardier In A Totally Condescending Way

06/19/2015 03:36 EDT | Updated 06/19/2015 03:59 EDT
Adam Berry via Getty Images
BERLIN, GERMANY - SEPTEMBER 11: John Leahy, chief commercial officer of Airbus, poses with a model of an Airbus A320 airplane during the company's press conference at the 2012 Internationale Luftausstellung (ILA) Air Show on September 11, 2012 in Berlin, Germany. The Toulouse-based company, the largest maker of commercial aircraft, raised its 20-year forecast for deliveries last week, expecting strong orders in Asia-Pacific markets, predicting USD 3.9 trillion, or about 28,200 airplanes, in sales. (Photo by Adam Berry/Getty Images)

The sales chief of Airbus, the world’s second-largest civilian aircraft maker, isn’t worried at all about competition from Canadian manufacturer Bombardier.

John Leahy is so not worried, in fact, that he dissed the Quebec-based company with a backhanded compliment, and in such an offhand way he may not have noticed he was doing it.

At the Paris Air Show this week, Leahy was asked if he was worried about Bombardier’s CSeries jet eventually becoming competition for the Airbus A320.

“No,” he said. "I don't mean to insult Montreal in any way, but the last couple of years I've not really noticed they're much of a competitive threat to us or Boeing," he said at a press conference, as reported by Reuters.

Leahy said Bombardier CEO Pierre Beaudoin had given him a tour of a CSeries jet a few days earlier.

"He's got a nice little airplane there, but no, I'm not too worried," he told reporters.

Ouch.

So what could make a senior exec at one of the world’s largest aircraft manufacturers brush off a competitor with such nonchalance, such offhand condescension?

Maybe it’s the fact that Bombardier failed to score a single new order for its long-awaited, long-delayed CSeries jets at the Paris Air Show this week.

By comparison, Chicago-based Boeing scored contracts for 331 jets worth $50 billion. Airbus beat that total, landing orders for 421 planes, worth $57 billion.

Bombardier didn’t walk away completely empty-handed. Canadian Manufacturing reports it landed an order for five Q400 turboprop planes, from WestJet Encore. And Swiss Air Lines converted an earlier order for 10 CS100 jets to the larger CS300 model.

That’s a nice little contract there, Bombardier.

But it's not enough. Six years after launching sales of the CSeries jets, the company has recorded 243 orders, well below its goal of 300.

The seeming lack of enthusiasm for Bombardier’s new jets may help to explain why the company announced last month it’s cutting 1,750 jobs related to aircraft in Montreal, Toronto and Belfast.

The company’s net income fell 13 per cent in the first quarter of this year, to $100 million U.S.

Ontario still believes in the manufacturer, which has a large manufacturing presence in the Toronto area. Provinicial economic development minister Brad Duguid says Bombardier "will continue to be a strong global force within the aerospace sector."

Quebec isn’t so sure. Its economy minister, Jacques Daoust, said at the Paris Air Show the province was willing to bail out the CSeries jet by buying shares in the company, if the need arises.

That was a solid show of support from the company’s home government, but all in all, Bombardier probably would have preferred to get an order for its jets instead.

Check out pics of Bombardier's CSeries aircraft:

Bombardier CSeries jets