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Bombardier: Demand For Business, Regional Jets Rising

Aerospace manufacturer foresees little turbulence on the horizon as it boosted its market forecasts for business and regional jets over the next 10 and 20 years.

MONTREAL (CP) -- Bombardier Inc. foresees little turbulence on the horizon as it boosted its market forecasts for business and regional jets over the next 10 and 20 years, ahead of an expected launch of the new CSeries airliner.

The Montreal-based aerospace manufacturer acknowledged short-term uncertainty over the economic outlook, but said Wednesday it expects 13,200 business aircraft will be delivered worldwide over the next decade, representing US$300 billion of revenues.

Additionally, 12,900 regional jet airliners are expected to be sold through 2027, worth US$528 billion.

''Despite strong concerns over a possible downturn in the U.S. and world economies that could create a decrease in overall orders over the next two years, Bombardier believes industry deliveries should keep increasing until 2017,'' the company said in its business-jet outlook unveiled in Belfast, Northern Ireland.

Overall, ''as we transition to a more international customer base that features less emphasis on the U.S., as well as a structural shift towards larger and more cost-effective aircraft, Bombardier's key product families -- business jets and regional aircraft -- are expected to continue to generate strong interest across all markets,'' stated Mairead Lavery, the company's vice-president of strategy and business development.

Bombardier didn't specify what portion of each market it expects to gain.

But the company lost market share last year, particularly in regional jets. Its share decreased 12 percentage points to 33 percent in regional jets, and by nine points to 58 percent for turboprops.

Overall, the world's third-largest aircraft manufacturer saw its share of the commercial aircraft market decrease to 42 percent in 2007 from 51 percent a year earlier.

On the business jet side, the market share declined nominally to 26 percent.

The forecasts represent increases from Bombardier's outlook last year.

The ''sustained vigour of the European jet market'' propelled Bombardier to increase its business-jet forecast by nearly one-third, while demand for regional airliners with up to 149 seats is being backed by a trend towards larger aircraft with improved operating costs in light of higher fuel prices, the company said.

It repeated that a final decision is to be made this year on whether to build the CSeries jet, which would compete in the 100-to-149-seat category. The Bombardier board decided in February to offer formal sales proposals to airlines, with an entry into service likely in 2013.

One-third of commercial flights worldwide are on regional aircraft and Bombardier's CRJs and Q400 turboprops have become the backbone of many airlines.

Bombardier's business jet forecast is consistent with an earlier forecast by Honeywell Aerospace, which called for 1,400 deliveries through 2017.

Analyst Cam Doerksen of Versant Partners said the forecasts recognize growing demand from emerging markets and oil producing countries, along with sustained European buying.

The falling value of the U.S. dollar has also helped to boost interest since aircraft which have U.S. dollar pricetages are cheaper to buyers outside the United States because of the falling value of the greenback.

''For anybody outside the U.S. buying a business jet, it has become quite a bit less expensive that it was a few years ago,'' he said in an interview.

Even though rival Embraer's backlog was boosted by strong orders a few years ago, Bombardier's commercial aircraft business remains strong.

''What it's going to look like in 20 years who knows, but right now it seems fairly positive.''

Moody's Investors Service on Wednesday upgraded Wednesday its rating outlook for Bombardier to positive from stable and affirmed its corporate, senior unsecured and liquidity ratings.

Record backlogs and strong demand from international customers positions the company for continued revenue growth, profitability improvements and cash flow generation, the agency said.

That's coupled with meaningful reduction in debt levels, it added.

''Despite the poor financial condition of the airline industry and challenging economic backdrop in the U.S., reducing dependence on the U.S. market for cyclical aerospace activity and record backlog levels in each of Bombardier's business segments, provide the basis for continued operating momentum,'' said Darren Kirk, lead analyst with Moody's.

Bombardier shares gained six cents to C$6.52 Wednesday on the Toronto Stock Exchange.

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