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JetBlue talks pick up with planemakers over replacing jets

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Jet Blue Airways Corp met with Canadian planemaker Bombardier and also had plans to meet with Brazil's Embraer this month, according to an internal email reviewed by Reuters, in a signal that talks are picking up for the US airline's closely watched sales campaign.

[MONTREAL] Jet Blue Airways Corp met with Canadian planemaker Bombardier and also had plans to meet with Brazil's Embraer this month, according to an internal email reviewed by Reuters, in a signal that talks are picking up for the US airline's closely watched sales campaign.

Low-cost carrier JetBlue has previously said it is weighing whether to replace its fleet of about 60, 100-seater E-190 jets, in a campaign pitting Bombardier's CSeries against its Brazilian rival's latest model, the E190-E2.

JetBlue officials also met Bombardier chief executive Alain Bellemare at the company's Montreal-area plant on Monday, said an industry source, confirming earlier media reports. The source said JetBlue had not finalized a deal with either planemaker.

A spokeswoman for Bombardier declined to comment on a sales campaign.

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JetBlue said in a statement it is "exploring a full range of options from maintaining the current fleet to a full replacement with an alternative aircraft type."

Embraer is determined to keep JetBlue as a key customer, while Bombardier wants to grow sales in the United States after a trade agency ruled the Canadian plane-and-train-maker could sell its 110-to-130 seat CSeries to American carriers duty-free following a dispute with Boeing Co.

The Feb 17 email says "the Bombardier team was in to discuss product support and maintenance for its C Series. And later this month, we'll have a chance to take a close-up look at the Embraer E2."

It was not clear whether JetBlue already saw the E2 and a spokesman for Embraer could not immediately answer Monday night.

In January, JetBlue said it would prolong an internal review over the future of its fleet at a time of an evolving landscape for commercial aviation. Embraer is now holding tie-up talks with Boeing and Bombardier is working to complete a deal giving a majority stake in the CSeries to Airbus SE.

REUTERS