Bombardier Aerospace boss: Demand remains slow for Learjet, competitors

The market for Bombardier Learjet models continues to be weak, the head of the company's aerospace business said this morning.

"At this segment of the market, it's not only slow for Learjet," Guy Hachey, president and chief operating executive of Bombardier Aerospace, said during a conference call after Bombardier reported third-quarter financial results.

It's slow for all manufacturers — including Cessna Aircraft and Hawker Beechcraft — that produce light and medium-size business aircraft.

"We're running very low rates (of production) compared to where we were a couple of years ago," he said.

The company expects to see an improvement in sales and deliveries in the fourth quarter.

When it comes to production in Wichita, "we've pretty well set the plant at the appropriate level for the demand right now," Hachey said.

His remarks were part of a conference call regarding Bombardier's performance in the third quarter ending Oct. 31.

Bombardier reported revenue and earnings were down for the third quarter.

Revenue was $4 billion, compared with $4.6 billion in the third quarter of 2009. Earnings before financing income, financing expense and income taxes totaled $228 million, compared with $262 million last year.

Net income amounted to $143 million, compared with $168 million during the third quarter last year.

Revenues in its aerospace business totaled $1.8 billion in the quarter, compared with $2.1 billion a year ago.

The aerospace segment recorded 23 net orders in the quarter, up from seven last year. It delivered 53 aircraft, compared with 61.

The company's backlog for aircraft was $16.2 billion on Oct. 31, down from $16.7 billion on Jan. 31.

The company has a seven-month backlog of orders for Learjets. It also has to work through some white tails, Learjets built but not sold. The company declined to say how many white tails it has.

The company is hoping not to see further deterioration in the Learjet market, Hachey said.

Earlier this year, the company expected an increase in business jet orders in the second half of the year.

"It turned out, that's different," Hachey said.

November, however, was a stronger month.

"It's a very nervous market at this point," said Bombardier president and CEO Pierre Beaudoin. "It's very hard to read right now."

Most of the orders for business jets are coming from outside the U.S., Hachey said.

Large business jets are doing better than small jets in the market — an indication of stronger international sales, Beaudoin said.