Bombardier's CSeries becomes the Airbus A220 after plane makers join up

Say "so long" to Bombardier's CSeries jets. No, the jet isn't being scrapped, but it is taking on a new name as Airbus cements its new majority stake in the product line.

Airbus is extending its naming convention to the jets, rebranding the CSeries as the Airbus A220. The smaller CS100, which can seat about 120 passengers in a typical configuration, will now be called the A220-100. The larger CS300 that can seat 130 to 140 passengers in a standard layout will be known as the A220-300.

Airbus' new "A220" designation places its new line of smaller jets from Bombardier below Airbus' existing "A300" lineup of jets. That lineup ranges from the A320 family of single-aisle planes that start at about 125 seats up to Airbus' double-decked A380 superjumbo jet that can seat more than 600 passengers in "high-density" configurations.

In a statement announcing the name aircraft names, Airbus said that A220 aircraft "are fully optimised for the 100 to 150 seat market and perfectly complement Airbus' existing ... A320neo family."

"Everyone at Airbus has been looking forward to this historic moment. Today, we are thrilled to welcome the A220 to the Airbus family and are honoured to see it wearing its new Airbus colours for the first time," Guillaume Faury, Airbus President Commercial Aircraft, said in a statement. "I pay tribute to all the women and men at Bombardier and the supply chain who have strived over the past years to bring this fantastic aircraft to the world. The A220 now enters a new phase in its career with all Airbus' resources behind it to further its commercial success worldwide."

Airbus and Bombardier first announced their tie-up last October as Canadian jetmaker Bombardier looked for a resolution to a trade dispute in which the United States threatened tariffs of up to 300 per cent on the CSeries jets. The threatened tariffs followed a formal complaint launched by Boeing that alleged unfair subsidies for the Canadian-made jet, which was buoyed by a large order from Atlanta-based Delta.

The United States ultimately confirmed unfair subsidies, but backed off the tariffs because it said Boeing could not prove harm from them. However, that didn't come before Bombardier sought refuge in a deal with Boeing's archrival Airbus that would allow US-bound CSeries jets to be assembled at Airbus' recently opened assembly line in Alabama. The deal ended up giving Airbus a majority stake in the CSeries line.

Since then, Boeing has followed up plans to cement its own partnership with Bombardier's Brazilian-based rival Embraer, further extending the rivalry between Boeing and Airbus.

Bombardier and Embraer have traditionally focused mostly on regional jets, but each has introduced new lines of planes that can seat roughly 100 to 150 passengers, depending on the model and configuration. That new lineup of planes has brought the regional jetmaker's planes right up to the cusp of the smallest models offered by Boeing (the 737) and Airbus (the A320 family).

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Now, the recent deals have brought Boeing and Airbus -- the world's two largest jetmakers -- squarely into the picture. Until the recent deals, Boeing and Airbus had focused most of their passenger aircraft attention on larger "mainline" aircraft and left the smaller planes to other manufacturers.

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See also: A380 superjumbo destined for scrapyard gets new lease on life

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