Boeing Continues to Attract Canadian Anger over Bombardier Dispute
Earlier this week it was widely reported in Ottawa that the Canadian government – which has already cancelled a planned order for up to 18 F/A-18 SUPER HORNETs from Boeing as part of the CF-18 fleet replacement programme – has opened negotiations with the Australian government for purchase of an unspecified number of classic HORNETs instead. Neither Canada nor Boeing have commented on the issue, but the Australian Department of Defence did confirm that Canada made a formal expression of interest in the matter on 29 September.
The decision – if one has actually been made – would appear to be politically inspired, though some observers believe a virtue will be made of the potential cost savings to be achieved. Boeing’s decision to launch a serious trade challenge against Bombardier, which it accuses of dumping airliners on the US market and which has resulted in the imposition of an eyewatering 220% import tariff on the Canadian airframer’s airliners and brought the company’s future into question, has attracted significant anger in both government and public circles in Ottawa. The alternative buy from Australia – which MT understands could be formalised as soon as next week – is just one of many manifestations of that anger. Boeing risks losing considerable business in Canada as a direct result – and is already marshalling its resources to combat negative public opinion, pointing out that the US corporation supports thousands of Canadian jobs. The Trudeau government, however, believes Boeing ‘has not acted as a trusted partner.’
Canada is due to launch the formal CF-18 replacement programme in 2019 and a recent softening of the government’s line regarding the F-35 indicates the Lockheed Martin fighter will almost certainly be allowed to compete.