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Lufthansa confident about Bombardier CSeries jets despite delay

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[March 25, 2014]  By Susan Taylor

TORONTO (Reuters)  Deutsche Lufthansa AG <LHAG.DE> said on Monday that it is disappointed by development delays with Bombardier Inc's <BBDb.TO> all-new CSeries jetliner, but the airline said it remains confident it picked the right aircraft.

Lufthansa's chief plane buyer, executive vice president of fleet management Nico Buchholz, said he has seen schedules for other new planes slip in the past and has no reason to believe that Bombardier will not meet its new delivery target.

"For me, and for Lufthansa, it's not a first. We have seen those things before, we have seen how they were solved and therefore we still have the confidence to get the aircraft which we ordered," Buchholz said at a Toronto industry event.

"Yes, it's a bit late, but technically it's where we want it to be. So, we're quite happy and we're looking forward to get the aircraft in the second half of next year, end of next year."

Germany's Lufthansa was the first airline to put in an order for the CSeries, signing a letter of interest for 30 planes, with options for 30 more, in 2008. The planes are for its Swiss airline subsidiary. It firmed the order in March 2009.

Montreal-based Bombardier, which Buchholz was visiting for CSeries progress updates, has pushed back the aircraft's entry into commercial service to the second half of 2015 from an original target of the end of 2013. Flight testing is now under way.

Buchholz said the CSeries delay was due to "an accumulation of small things and that's why we are not worried."

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Multiple delays have disappointed investors and pushed up the program cost to $4.4 billion, adding to competition concerns as the CSeries takes on smaller jetliners made by industry titans Boeing Co <BA.N> and Airbus Group NV <AIR.PA>.

Bombardier wants to dominate the 100- to 149-seat plane market with the CSeries, built with lightweight composite materials and other technologies designed to make it burn less fuel and operate more quietly, with lower operating costs.

(Editing by Cynthia Osterman)

[ 2014 Thomson Reuters. All rights reserved.]

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