This story is produced in partnership with PaxEx.Aero - The Business of Passenger Experience
AirBaltic loves its CSeries jets. The Latvian carrier is set to dramatically grow that fleet. Today’s deal with Bombardier, inked just over one year since the first CS300 arrived in Riga, adds at least 30 more of the type to its fleet. That brings the total firm orders for the CS300 to 50 with 30 additional options. With the new deal in place AIrBaltic becomes the second largest firm commitment for the CSeries family.
“In 2017, we experienced outstanding growth and showed the world the unique capabilities and comfort of this innovative aircraft. We successfully executed our fleet modernization strategy, and are excited to further grow our fleet up to 80 CS300 aircraft while phasing out our other aircraft types in the next three years,” said Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic.
#airBaltic takes a historic step and orders up to 60 new Bombardier #CS300 aircraft. They will enable the company to further improve its regional leadership and connectivity from the Baltic states to the world. https://t.co/WPzTpUh6be pic.twitter.com/Kjk3Tk4yUA
— airBaltic (@airBaltic) May 28, 2018
Delivery of the next tranche of CS300 aircraft will commence in 2019 as the initial order of 20 completes. The airline plans to use the new deliveries as both replacements for existing planes and to grow operations. The 737 and Q400 types will be retired from service, leaving only the CS300 in operation. The airline believes that the single aircraft type is a core component of success as it moves to build its Baltic hub into a regional powerhouse.
Read More: On board the AirBaltic CS300
The new business plan Destination 2025 relies on expansion of routes from all three Baltic countries – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, covering essentially the main European cities. The strategy also foresees that airBaltic will achieve a significant increase in passenger numbers and its revenue by 2025. The most successful airlines in Europe operate uniform fleet of larger scale, supported by cost efficient operations. airBaltic thus will have all ingredients to enable stable future of the company.
A look inside the CS300 from Aircraft Interiors Expo 2017
The allusion to the most successful airlines in Europe running a single aircraft type is almost certainly a nod to Ryanair, easyJet and other LCCs. The cost benefits of a single type are very real, but do not alone ensure economic success. The Monarch A320 family was consistent and still didn’t save that airline, for example.
Still, the modernization of the fleet should bring about a better passenger experience. The new CSeries is a quieter aircraft with wider seats and a more comfortable cabin environment for passengers. The company still does not offer in-flight entertainment nor connectivity on its fleet but the mostly shorter flights may not demand such yet. With a handful of destinations further afield (e.g. Abu Dhabi) the lack of IFE/C could become a challenge as the carrier grows. Fortunately there are options available today from Gogo; other vendors almost certainly would work with Bombardier to deliver if Air Baltic pursues such.
The deal is also a strong vote of confidence for Bombardier as it seeks success in the CSeries program ahead of closing its sale to Airbus. Both Airbus and Bombardier have repeatedly suggested that the pending transition will significantly improve sales opportunities for the CSeries, though with few specific deals announced. Getting a few of those deals into public view is good news for all involved.
Delta Air Lines remains the largest CSeries family order with a firm commitment for 75 frames. Though slightly delayed those orders are expected to begin later this year, including Gogo-provided inflight entertainment (Gogo Vision Touch) and connectivity (2Ku). Air Canada also holds a relatively large order book, with 45 of the type to be delivered in the coming years.
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