Regional jet order decisions by US airlines difficult to predict, Bombardier says

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Several US airlines have missed their own deadlines for placing large regional jet orders, leaving the manufacturers uncertain about the timing for their final decisions, Bombardier Aerospace president Guy Hachey says.

More contracts for large regional jets are likely to follow Delta Air Lines' deal in December for 40 Bombardier CRJ900s and Republic Airways' purchase of 47 Embraer 175s.

But the timing of potential deals by the merged American Airlines and US Airways carrier, United Airlines and SkyWest Airlines is difficult to predict, says Hachey, who addressed analysts and investors on 21 March.

"I cannot tell you that they will be done in 2013," Hachey says. "I am hopeful they will be.

Earlier this month, Embraer executives estimated that the North American market is likely to order up to 600 regional jets over the next five years, but also were unwilling to offer a detailed short-term forecast.

Sales activity has been slow, but it is still ongoing, Hachey says.

"We have three or four very significant campaigns going on in North America," he says.

One incentive for airlines to place orders early involves securing production slots, Hachey says. Delta wants Bombardier to deliver aircraft relatively quickly, he says, leaving few production slots available in the near-term.

"We have somewhat of a race going on because there are limited positions," Hachey says.