Sometimes it feels like Bombardier’s CSeries has suffered more false starts than a new Toronto subway line. But while the sexy CSeries flounders, its homely cousin the Q-Series (a 70-seat turboprop jet) has been selling briskly in developing markets where discount airlines are proliferating. In February, RwandAir became the 15th African airline to use a Q-400, while Kazakhstan ordered 10 for a new national carrier.
Bombardier’s turboprop sales are still lagging behind European rival ATR, but two things are working in the Canadians’ favour. First, Bombardier has released a new higher-capacity Q-400, which will seat 86. (Thailand’s Nok Air and Abu Dhabi–based Falcon Aviation Services were the first to get on-board, ordering 10 of the aircraft between them.) Second, Bombardier last year made a tentative deal with Rostec, a Russian state-owned manufacturer, to begin an assembly line in that country, which would include an order for up to 100 new Q-400s. The deal would be worth billions and could lock out ATR from that fast-growing market. While the turmoil in Ukraine and the threat of Western sanctions have raised some uncertainty, if Bombardier is able to navigate the geopolitics, the Q-Series will fly high in 2014.