Lion Group President Director Rusdi Kirana says there will be no early decision on a Bombardier CSeries firm order, despite the potential for the Canadian-made twinjet to open up untapped “long-thin” routes in the Indonesian carrier’s rapidly expanding Asia-Pacific network.
Commenting in Seattle, where Lion Air was marking the handover of its 100th Next Generation 737, Kirana said the airline group is interested in “up to 50 minimum” of the larger CS300 version.
The airline in September said it was considering a “double-digit” order for the aircraft and commented that a decision could come as soon as the end of this year. However, Kirana now says the decision will ultimately depend on performance figures from test flights of the CS100 now undergoing initial testing in Montreal.
“I believe this aircraft will be good and in terms of cost per seat will be almost the same as the Airbus A320neo. So it will be good to fly on long or mid-range routes with thin markets and will therefore be good to open up new markets,” he noted.
Flight tests of the CS300, which—like the first variant—is powered by Pratt & Whitney’s PW1500G geared turbofan, are expected to begin early in 2014. “The rate of progress is not as fast as I was expecting to get a deal signed,” said Kirani, adding, “I’m quite pessimistic it will be by the end of this year or even the first quarter of next year. But in terms of financing we have to see once they’re ready and we can sit down together.”
Kirani says that Lion’s requirement for the type is not “urgent” and cautions that Bombardier’s focus is on ensuring performance before hammering out deals. “It’s a new type of aircraft and they need to make sure everything is good,” he explained.
[Editor’s note: This article has been updated to clarify Lion Group’s position on the CSeries tests and add a hyperlink.]