Delta Air Lines chief executive Ed Bastian has stated the American carrier will not pay “any” tariff on the purchase of C Series aircraft from Bombardier.
Following a complaint from rival manufacturer Boeing, the United States secretary of commerce, Wilbur Ross, has announced plans for a potential tariff of 220 per cent on the import of 100- to 150-seat civil aircraft from Canada.
The US argues the price of the planes has been artificially lowered by an illegal subsidy from the Canadian government.
However, addressing an industry audience in Atlanta today, Bastian said: “We will not pay any tariff on the Bombardier order.”
Questioned on Boeing’s motive in the dispute, Bastian added he was “mystified”.
“It is hard to see how Boeing is being harmed when they do not have a product in this market.
“I do not understand it, this is a platform they decided not to make any more ten years ago.”
However, the Delta chief was keen to frame the dispute in the wider picture, stating it would not damage the relationship between the Atlanta-based airline and the manufacturer.
“Delta is the second largest Boeing operator in the world, so we have every interest in maintaining a strong relationship,” he explained.
“Through our network of partners, we have a much broader relationship with Boeing than perhaps any other company.”
Bastian also argued around half of the C Series aircraft was manufactured in the United States, further querying the motivation of Boeing in the dispute.
As many as 20,000 US jobs have been created by the programme, he added.
Delta currently has as many as 75 of the Bombardier planes on order.
The deal is widely seen as critical to the continuation of the C Series programme, which has struggled financially.
Bastian added, when delivered, the new aircraft would allow Delta to expand its operations in smaller hubs, including Seattle, New York and Houston.
European manufacturer Airbus has been quick to exploit the impasse between the United States and Canada, this week taking a majority stake in the C Series programme.
Commenting on the deal, Bastian said: “I was aware of the discussions, although not in the middle of them.
“Airbus saw the platform as an opportunity; there is a niche there that is not being served.
“We are excited to bring this product to market.”