By Abhijith Ganapavaram and Allison Lampert
(Reuters) -Bombardier Inc on Thursday forecast higher business jet deliveries for 2023 despite supply-chain problems expected to subside but not disappear this year, chief executive Eric Martel said.
Canada’s Bombardier expects to deliver more than 138 jets in 2023, compared with 123 last year, after strong demand for private flying lifted its quarterly results above expectations.
“Today there are less suppliers that have issues but those that remain have sometimes deeper issues which we need to work with,” Martel told reporters.
He made a fresh case for Bombardier to be included in any plans by Canada to buy reconnaissance jets. Late last year, he voiced concerns that such a contract could potentially go directly to U.S. planemaker Boeing Co .
“I guess they’re going to have to answer and explain why we wouldn’t be part of the process when we’ve been with our platform successful in a lot of other countries,” he said of Canada.
Officials at the federal procurement ministry had no immediate comment.
Earlier, Martel said demand remains resilient despite economic headwinds.
“We all understand there’s a nervousness in the economy right now, but we see our start to be a normal start,” he told analysts.
Business jet makers’ backlogs swelled over the last two years on sustained demand since the height of COVID-19.
Yet private jet traffic, while above 2019 levels, is set to level off this year, even as low inventory of pre-owned planes for sale creeps up, aviation analysts say.
Bombardier’s backlog at 2022-end was $14.8 billion, up $2.6 billion. Book-to-bill, or ratio of orders received to units shipped and billed for the period, was 1.4.
It forecast 2023 revenue of more than $7.6 billion, compared with estimates of $7.69 billion, according to Refinitiv data.
Free cash flow is expected to surpass $250 million, compared with last year’s $735 million.
For the fourth quarter, Bombardier reported adjusted profit per share of $2.09, compared with expectations of 63 cents.
(Reporting by Aishwarya Nair and Abhijith Ganapavaram in Bengaluru and Allison Lampert in Montreal; Additional reporting by Steve Scherer in Ottawa; Editing by Devika Syamnath, Caitlin Webber and Andrea Ricci)