Mongolia's Eznis signs letter of interest for CSeries

By Leithen Francis

Mongolia's number two carrier Eznis Airways has signed a letter-of-interest with Bombardier for seven CSeries aircraft, becoming the second declared potential customer.

Eznis CEO Glen Pickard says the carrier has signed a letter-of-interest for seven CSeries aircraft and the first could be delivered as early as 2013.

Pickard says Eznis plans to sign a firm contract in 2010 after it completes a route evaluation study with Bombardier to determine which routes to operate the CSeries on and to determine whether the 110- or 130-seat aircraft best suits its needs.

He says the carrier signed the letter-of-interest in September and has been dealing with Bombardier's Beijing office.

Eznis needs regional jet aircraft as part of its third-phase expansion which will see the airline launching international services to major destinations in China - such as Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai - as well as to destinations further afield in Kazakhstan and eastern Europe, says Pickard.

He says Eznis chose the CSeries after "looking at the economics of the aircraft compared to what is out there today".

This means Eznis is the second airline to sign on for the CSeries. The other is Lufthansa, which in July signed a letter-of-interest for up to 60 aircraft, prompting Bombardier to launch the new-aircraft programme.

Pickard is familiar with Bombardier having previously worked as CEO of Canadian regional carrier Regional 1 Airlines, which operates Bombardier regional turboprops.

Eznis, which started operations in 2006, operates three Saab 340Bs and is currently negotiating with ATR to buy a new ATR 42-500 for delivery in May, possibly with an option for a second in 2010.

This aircraft will be used for mining charters in Mongolia and on short-haul international routes to Russia and northern China. The introduction of the 50-seat turboprop is part of its second-phase expansion.

Eznis' parent is Newcom, a privately-owned Mongolian conglomerate that has various businesses including Mongolia's leading mobile phone network Mobicom.

© Reed Business Information 2009

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