Airbus officially renames Bombardier-developed C Series the A220

The name that Bombardier has said for a decade was its future is now no more, as Airbus officially renamed the C Series aircraft as the A220, bringing it in line with its other jets.

U.S. carrier JetBlue orders 60 of the rebranded aircraft

The Bombardier C Series has been officially renamed the A220. (Christinne Muschi/Reuters)

The name that Bombardier has said for a decade was its future is now no more, as Airbus officially renamed the C Series aircraft as the A220, bringing it in line with its other jets.

Airbus President Guillaume Faury announced the move in a tweet Tuesday, telling followers that the line of planes his company acquired effectively for free last year is now formally renamed the A220.

Last fall, the two companies came together on a joint venture to make the planes, after the U.S. threatened to impose harsh tariffs on any C Series jets imported into the U.S.

Europe-based Airbus has many U.S. manufacturing facilities, and why moving parts of the jet's production to those locations helped Montreal-based Bombardier get around the tariffs.

The deal saw Airbus receive a 50.1 per cent stake in the project, with the Quebec government holding 19 per cent and Bombardier owning about 30 per cent of the C Series project on which it had once pinned its hopes.

Under the deal, the C Series's head office and main assembly line will be located in Mirabel, Que., building orders for the world market. But any planes destined for the U.S. will be built in an Airbus facility in Mobile, Ala. 

The jet formally known as the C Series 100 will now be known as the A220-100, while the larger C Series 300 will be the A220-300.

The move also comes after multiple production delays in getting the planes off the ground. Sales started off sluggish, but have picked up in recent years.

In the first order announced following the rebranding, U.S. airline JetBlue said Tuesday it would buy 60 of the A220-300 aircraft. JetBlue did not disclose the financial terms of the deal. Reuters reported that the planes will replace JetBlue's current fleet of 60 Embraer E190 aircraft, which are due to be retired beginning in 2020.

Bombardier had marketed the plane as being the most fuel efficient in its class — the fast-growing 100- to 150-seat plane market. Neither Airbus nor U.S. rival Boeing makes a truly comparable plane with a similar seat capacity. 

The closest is likely the Airbus A320, which holds 180 people. But much of future growth, Airbus forecasts, will come from planes either smaller or larger than the 320.

Airbus CEO Tom Enders said the company forecasts the A220 can satisfy a good chunk of the demand for thousands of planes in that size range that the company forecasts will be sold in the next 20 years. "Our top priority is selling the aircraft like crazy," he told journalists last week.

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