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Like the song says, “You gotta know when to fold ‘em.” For Boeing, that time is now, a little more than a week after the U.S. International Trade Commission rejected 4-0 its petition asserting Bombardier, a much smaller Canadian firm, had engaged in unfair trade practices.
Back in May, the U.S. aerospace giant alleged the smaller Canadian firm sold 75 of a new line of passenger planes to Delta at a price so low the Canadian government must have been providing subsidies far exceeding accepted industry practices. Boeing, urging the imposition of retaliatory import tariffs on these C Series jets, also urged the US ITC to investigate.
ITC - Agency - Veteran - Trade - Practitioners
The ITC, a quasi-judicial independent agency made up of veteran trade practitioners of both major parties, listened, combed through volumes of data, and eventually concluded Boeing and American jobs faced no threat from Bombardier.
In retrospect, it was audacious of Boeing to even initiate the case. To be injured by unfair competition, Boeing first had to be in the game, but the company is not a serious contender in the market for smaller-sized passenger planes like the C Series. The Boeing planes that come closest, the 737s, are too big for many carriers’ regional operations. These airlines must try to fill every seat on every flight to remain profitable. The C Series fit the bill. Knowing this, Boeing did not even vie for Delta’s business. In fact, a few years back, Boeing executives were quite candid in announcing the company would concentrate on dominating the market for jumbo passenger planes in the growing and lucrative international market.
Goal - Business - Class - Planes - Order
That goal notwithstanding, business is still booming for the smaller 737 class planes, some 5,000 of which are reportedly on back order. This makes the assertion Boeing would be harmed by Bombardier’s sale to Delta even more baffling.
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