Bombardier has sold its stake in the Airbus A220 program as it struggles to stay afloat financially in a debt quagmire that can be traced, at least in part, to the development of the well-regarded airliner. Under the deal, Airbus will pay Bombardier $591 million US and assume 75 percent of the program. The Quebec government will keep 25 percent of the A220 and won’t have to kick in more money. The aircraft are built at Mirabel, near Montreal, and that will continue as part of the deal. A satellite plant that builds the cockpits in Ville Saint-Laurent will be moved to Mirabel in three years. A total of 3,300 workers are employed by the A220 program.
Bombardier piled up losses of $1.6 billion last year and while that was a factor in the timing of the sale, the company had already decided to sell. “The reason why we’re looking at strategic options is to accelerate deleveraging of the business — the strategy was always to exit commercial aircraft,” said CEO Alain Bellemare. Bombardier has $9 billion in debt against annual revenues of $15 billion and will likely leave aviation entirely in the near future to pay down that debt. It’s currently in talks with Textron for the sale of its business jet division, its last remaining aviation enterprise.