By Leah Schnurr
OTTAWA (Reuters) - Planemaker Boeing Co <BA.N> could include civil aviation work opportunities for Canadian firms if the country were to purchase F/A-18E/F Super Hornets to replace its aging fighter jets, company executives said on Thursday.
The new Liberal government promised during last year's election that it would launch an open competition to replace Canada's CF-18 fighter aircraft and pledged not to buy Lockheed Martin Corp's <LMT.N> F-35 jets as the previous Conservative government had planned to do.
But the Liberals, who came into power last November, have yet to release details on a competition.
Boeing executives said the company is making the case for both the capabilities and the economic benefits it can offer Canada with its Super Hornets.
"What we bring to the table is an aerospace company that includes both commercial and defense opportunities," said Roger Schallom, senior manager of Boeing's International Strategic Partnerships for the Americas.
"We don't just look at defense. We bring Boeing commercial and Boeing defense opportunities to Canadian industry," he added, though he did not give specifics on what type of work that would include.
Other work Boeing is looking at under a potential program includes in-service support and assistance with exporting, said Schallom.
"All of these (elements) are, I believe, attractive to the government of Canada," said Schallom.
Asked whether that could include giving work to Canadian planemaker Bombardier <BBDb.TO>, Roberto Valla, vice president of global sales for Canada, said that while there have been no requests to work with specific firms, Boeing is open to working with all Canadian companies.
It already works with more than 550 companies across Canada, Valla said.
Recent media reports have suggested Canada could delay a competition and order Boeing's fighter jets as a stop-gap measure. The defense minister's spokeswoman has said the reports were inaccurate.
Valla said that while the government is exploring a number of options, Boeing has not been asked to provide a formal offer.
Lockheed told Reuters earlier this month that the company is studying whether to shift work on the F-35 away from Canadian firms amid the uncertainty.
In Montreal, Quebec Economy Minister Dominique Anglade said Thursday she would like to see the province's aerospace industry make further inroads in the defense market and would closely follow any competition. Anglade could not say whether Boeing or Lockheed would provide greater benefits to Quebec's aerospace hub, the largest in Canada.
(Reporting by Leah Schnurr. Additional reporting by Allison Lampert in Montreal.; Editing by Alan Crosby and Dan Grebler)