Early coverage of the proposed partnership between Airbus and Bombardier to build the latter company’s CSeries jetliners has made the deal sound like a setback for Boeing. That isn’t the way Boeing sees it. It could have gotten the same deal Airbus got, and chose to not pursue a relationship. Regardless of what role Airbus plays on the CSeries, Boeing expects that hefty duties will be imposed on imports of the planes into the U.S. for years to come. Bombardier will not be able to escape those duties by performing some production at the Airbus complex in Alabama, and any significant shift of jobs there from Canada would create a political firestorm in Bombardier’s home market. After all, Airbus was able to secure a majority interest in CSeries without spending any money — after Canada has spent billions of dollars keeping Bombardier afloat. Airbus will face its own issues with subsidies in the coming year, as the World Trade Organization rules that European governments have failed to remedy illegal launch aid that hurts U.S. industry. That could lead to harsh countermeasures, impairing Airbus business prospects almost as much as the impending demise of its A380 superjumbo. So Boeing isn’t worried about the Airbus-Bombardier partnership. I have written a commentary for Forbes here.
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