Air Baltic has announced an LOI for Bombardier’s new CSeries at Farnborough air show. The first aircraft of a 10 + 10 order for the larger CS300 130-seater are scheduled for delivery in Q4/2015.
AirBaltic is be the 13th customer of the CSeries. The largest customers so far are Republic Airways, Lufthansa and Korean. The manufacturer is aiming at having the aircraft do its first flight late 2012, despite wrestling right now with finalizing the fly-by-wire systems for the aircraft and solving some excess weight issues. Orders now mount to 138 aircraft.
In the process, Air Baltic was also reported to have evaluated the A319neo, B-737-700 and B737-7MAX.
Replacing 737 Classics
Air Baltic, which is 99.8 % controlled by the Latvian State, is phasing out older Boeing equipment with the deal, mainly scheduled to materialise in 2016. The company’s 757’s are on lease to Cambodia and the 737’s today operate in a mix of -300 and -500 series.
The airline already operates eight Dash 8 -Q400 aircraft from Bombardier, but is looking to grow the fleet to 11 ships this autumn. They would replace older F-50’s that have been scheduled for parking for some time, with a new effort by the introduction of winter 2012/13 schedules.
Element in a turnaround
Air Baltic’s home base Riga is controlled largely by the airline, which together with Ryanair run eight out of ten passenger seats out of Riga (66 % and 13 % respectively). Most frequented destinations are Vilnius, Helsinki, Tallinn, Moscow and surprisingly Oslo.
Air Baltic is headed by ex-Malev executive Martin Gauss, after venture capitalists left the airline together with previous CEO Bertolt Flick. After hitting the red financially, the airline working to trim its losses to €54m this year, €21m in 2013 with a clear profit target in 2014.
Cseries in comparison with related aircraft types