Airbus likely to acquire Bombardier’s A220 stake

Airbus, which celebrated its 50th anniversary last year in Toulouse, said it was hoping to reduce the A220’s production costs further. (AFP)
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Updated 08 February 2020

Airbus likely to acquire Bombardier’s A220 stake

  • Airbus, with a 50.6 percent stake in the program, delivered 48 A220 jets in 2019

MONTREAL: Europe’s Airbus is likely to acquire Canadian plane and train maker Bombardier’s remaining stake in the A220 passenger jet program, two industry sources said.

A deal for Airbus to buy the 33.58 percent share in the program was widely expected after Bombardier said in January it was reviewing the stake in the joint venture. Barring surprises, a deal is expected next week ahead of both companies’ earnings reports on Feb. 13, the sources added.

Airbus and Bombardier both declined to comment. The terms of a potential deal that would mark Bombardier’s exit from commercial aviation were unclear.

Bombardier, which is weighing additional asset sales, faced a cash crunch in 2015 due to its high-stakes bet on the technologically advanced narrowbody.

Montreal-based Bombardier ceded control of the program to Airbus in 2018 for a token C$1 as part of broader efforts to improve its finances. It retained a minority stake alongside the Canadian province of Quebec.

Bombardier had warned the program would require additional cash to ramp up production, and could be subject to a writedown, as it faces higher-than-expected costs in its rail division and more than $9 billion of debt.

Since Airbus took over the program, the A220 has seen a sharp pickup in sales to 658 orders as of Jan. 31. But it has not seen the cost declines expected from Airbus applying its greater purchasing power with suppliers, one of the sources said.

A deal would leave Airbus to shoulder additional investments required by the plane program.

“Airbus did not particularly want to do this at this time, but is presented with little choice if Bombardier is pulling back,” the second source said.

Airbus, with a 50.6 percent stake in the program, delivered 48 A220 jets in 2019 and is ramping up production toward its maximum monthly capacity of 10 jets in Mirabel, Quebec, and four planes at a second line in Alabama by mid-decade.

Airbus Chief Commercial Officer Christian Scherer told Reuters in January the company was progressing toward its target of a double-digit percentage reduction in the A220’s production costs.

Quebec, with a 16.36 percent stake in the A220 program, would not invest further. 

Rather, it is trying to protect the program’s estimated 2,700 jobs, along with the province’s $1 billion investment in the program, Economy Minister Pierre Fitzgibbon said on Monday.

“We put $1 billion in it and that’s enough.”

UAE dives into Lake Manzala project

Updated 21 September 2020

UAE dives into Lake Manzala project

  • Egyptian campaign aims to return the lake to its previous state and revive local fishing industry

CAIRO: The UAE National Marine Dredging Company (NMDC) has announced that it won the rights to the expansion project of Lake Manzala in Egypt, valued at 600 million UAE dirhams ($163 million).

The company’s announcement of the new project came following a disclosure published on the Abu Dhabi Securities Exchange website. It ensures compliance with the principle of disclosure and transparency in force in the UAE.

Lake Manzala is one of Egypt’s largest natural lakes. It is known for its potential fishing opportunities, as it has the basis for high fish stocks due to natural nutrients and a moderate climate throughout the year. It produces about half of the natural fish production in lakes.

The lake has witnessed neglect in recent years, losing much of its importance and wealth. In May 2017 Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi launched a national project to develop Egyptian lakes, with a key focus on Lake Manzala.

NMDC said in a statement that winning the project came through its partnership with the Egyptian-Emirati Challenge Company. It said that it will take about two years to implement the project.

NMDC is one of the leading companies in the field of dredging, land reclamation and civil and marine construction in the Middle East. The Lake Manzala development project aims to improve the quality of water to restore free fishing and return the lake to its previous state, which will boost the local market and export output.

President El-Sisi said that Lake Manzala will contribute to enhancing Egypt’s fishing industry, and export operations will be activated after its full development. He directed the border governorates, in coordination with the Ministry of Interior and the Armed Forces, to remove all encroachments and criminal outposts on the lake.

Several days ago, Dakahlia governorate completed a difficult operation to remove encroachments on the lake. A large campaign that used Armed Forces Engineering Authority equipment removed 301 houses in the Abdo El-Salhy area in El-Matareya city, known as the “fishermen’s land,” which was built on areas that were filled in from the lake. The operation occurred after local fishermen were persuaded to obtain compensation for vacating their houses.

Magdy Zaher, executive director of Manzala Lake, said that the engineering authority used 320 excavators and 20 imported suction dredgers to work in the lake.

The authority dredged the upper islands isolated from the water with the help of an Emirati bulldozing company to increase the efficiency and purification of Lake Manzala.

Zaher said the lake project will require several steps.

The most important is the removal of encroachments on the water surface and doubling its area to 250,000 feddans, he said. Dredging and deepening the lake, opening the gates and extending the radial channels to allow Mediterranean waters to enter the lake will follow, he added.

A safety belt will come in the form of a road 80 km long and 30 meters wide, which will surround the lake and prevent future encroachments. It will also divert the course of the Bahr El-Baqar water treatment plant, which pours 12 million cubic meters of sanitary, industrial and agricultural drainage into the lake, Zaher said.