Symbolically distant. Onlookers watch the first CSeries jet fly in 2013

What looked like an interesting if chancy jet for regional services in Australia and nearby places is starting to look like a lost cause as more bad news piles pressure on the Bombardier CSeries project.

The first blow came from Qatar Airways saying it was no longer interested in the all new design for a regional jet carrying between 100-160 passengers.

The second blow, which would have also caused some pain for Airbus and Boeing, was the Lufthansa Group deciding not to order the CSeries for its Austrian Airlines subsidiary.

Instead it will just transfer 16 used Embraer E-jets from its Cityline feeder airline to Austrian.

That news came with Lufthansa announcing its current new buying intentions were limited to six second hand A320s for its Eurowings subsidiary. Like the much more troubled Air France KLM group, Lufthansa is ‘big’ on setting up or further developing low cost units, and makes no bones about using them to eat, if necessary, its full service operations.

The combined impacts on short and longer haul routes by the rising fortunes of Ryanair, easyJet, and Norwegian (with some of its work force being based in Eire or Thailand) are really starting to drain the blood out of the full service brands, with the continually growing reach of high speed rail adding to market shifts that legacy carrier managements talk about in crisis terms.

The difficulty for Bombardier, among signs of a screw up in the project anyhow, is that cheap fuel has undermined the case for new technology designs and engines intended to solve the problems of expensive fuel.

That cheap fuel issue may not be as short lived as some have argued, with multiple reports in the US and Euro media referring to fuel inventories being so full that there is rapidly diminishing space to store any more, which in turn, could depress fuel prices for much longer than had been widely envisaged.

There are some very telling insights into the thinking of Lufthansa in particular in this report by Canadian media. Cheap fuel in abundance also makes it much harder for Airbus and Boeing to sell their new technology jets, although their major offerings for such, the A320 NEO series, and the 737 MAX family, are already very successful in terms of orders many of which were placed because of growth in demand and the more costly maintenance demands of geriatric fleets.

Airbus and Boeing have sound order backlogs from major airlines that are currently more profitable than they have been for a long time, notwithstanding the pain in Europe, and might be inconvenienced by their reluctance to pay a premium for new tech designs over their existing models.

However Bombardier has nothing of comparable quality by way of orders for either its all new CSeries, or even its established Dash 8 series turboprops.  It is threatened by the current situation.

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