Less than zero

Great news! After many years, sales of Bombardier’s much-vaunted — and much-more-subsidized — C-Series regional passenger jet are finally off the ground, with Lufthansa finally commiting to buy the first 30 of the planes.

So let’s see. Governments have put, what is it, $780-million into the project? That means as of now Bombardier is into the taxpayer for roughly $26-million per plane sold, or just over half the sticker price. But it’s all right: it’s a “repayable loan.” Bombardier only needs to sell several hundred of the things and we get all of our money back, ie we earn a zero per cent rate of return. Until that day, we’re in negative territory.

So it’s not quite true, even now, to say that Lufthansa has “bought” 30 jets from Bombardier. More like: the taxpayers of Canada have paid Lufthansa to take them. And Lufthansa has, after much deliberation, accepted.

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