Self-Inflicted Wounds

If Boeing had let the Bombardier minnow alone the C-Series would probably have sold only 300 or so planes. But now Boeing’s tariffs have destroyed its value and handed it to its rival for free. Airbus wants to sell up to 6,000 of the planes over the next 20 years. economist

And by pushing for tariffs on the C-Series, Boeing has annoyed customers, from Delta to the governments of Canada and Britain, which are threatening to tear up future military contracts.

It is right to fear the new combination. Although Airbus has lost ground in “widebody” jets recently as it refreshes its range, the European giant has already grabbed half the market for “narrowbodies” such as the C-Series. Analysts think the tie-up will further tighten Airbus’s grip. Boeing may now have to spend tens of billions of dollars launching a new narrowbody jet to compete, much sooner than planned.

Airbus had first looked at buying into the C-Series in 2015 but did not invest, worried about the technical risks in its development. But now the C-Series is in service, so the tie-up makes more sense. Bombardier, for its part, lacked sales expertise for big jets or a global maintenance network, which was putting off buyers, but Airbus thinks it can fix these problems by sharing its marketing skills and servicing system.