Bombardier Inc. announced that a new upstart Malaysian airline has placed a conditional order for 20 CSeries jets, with options for another 20.
Known as flymojo, the airline is expected to launch with the smaller of the two CSeries versions known as the CS100 in 2016 in the southern part of the country.
The deal was announced Tuesday at an air show in Malaysia, where top Malaysian government officials including Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak and Transport Minister Liow Tiong Lai were on hand.
“It’s a great one for us,” said Bombardier spokeswoman Marianella de la Barrera in a telephone interview. “As we have maintained from the beginning, we are keen to sign carriers in growth markets.”
She added that the CSeries plane is ideal for the Asian region, given the geography, and its small noise and environmental footprint.
Based on list prices, a firm order would be valued at $1.47 billion (U.S.), and could increase to $2.94 billion (U.S.), if all options are exercised.
The news comes at a time when Bombardier is working furiously toward entry into service later this year of its smaller plane, the CS100.
The airline marked first flight of the larger version of the plane, known as CS300, earlier this month.
Its fifth CS100 plane, which is decked out with interiors, just received a flight test permit last week, so Bombardier will soon have six CSeries jets in the air.
Bombardier said it has completed more than 1,200 flight test hours – more than halfway to its target of 2,400 hours.
The CSeries program is more than two years behind schedule and the cost has ballooned to $5.4 billion (U.S.), up from the original $3.4 billion (U.S.) price tag.
To date, Bombardier has booked orders and commitments for 603 CSeries aircraft, of which 243 are firm orders. The company has said it wants to have 300 firm orders at the time of entry into service.
Last month, the company also made dramatic changes to the executive suite, bringing in Alain Bellemare, a former executive with United Technologies Corp., to become president and CEO. Pierre Beaudoin became executive chairman, while his father Laurent Beaudoin, retired.
Analysts have pointed out that Bombardier CSeries sales have faced setbacks in recent weeks. Qatar Airways has opted for Airbus and Lufthansa’s Austrian Airlines has chosen to switch from Fokkers to Embraer.
Bombardier’s de la Barrera dismissed the reports, saying Qatar selected rival Airbus two years ago, so the company has not been in discussions with Qatar.
As for Lufthansa’s decision, de la Barrera noted its Swiss division has a firm order for 30 CSeries planes and options for another 30.
“Lufthansa is committed to the CSeries,” she said. “At this time, they have elected to move aircraft fleet from one operator to another.
“It’s not shutting the door,” de la Barrera said. “It doesn’t preclude Lufthansa from taking advantage of the delivery positions later.”
Flymojo, the new Malaysian airline will have its primary hub at Senai international airport in Johor, near Singapore, and a secondary hub in Kota Kinabalu, in Sabah.
Malaysia suffered three aviation tragedies last year with the disappearance of Malaysian Airlines Flight 370 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing in March 2014. Investigators have found no trace of the plane which was carrying 239 passengers.
Then in September, Malaysian Airlines Flight 17 was shot down over Ukraine as it was flying from Amsterdam to Kuala Lumpur, killing 298 people.
In December, another Malaysian plane crashed. The AirAsia flight from Indonesia to Singapore crashed into the Java Sea, shortly after takeoff, killing all 162 on board.