AirBaltic’s $3 Bn CS300 bonanza

Latvian low-fare airline airBaltic has signed a deal valued at nearly US$3 billion for the firm order of 30 CS300 aircraft from Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, with options for another 30, in a significant fleet expansion.

The sale and purchase agreement for the 30 CS300 aircraft is valued at $2.9 billion at list price, with the options, if exercised, taking that to $5.9 billion. The new aircraft order is the largest investment in Latvia’s history.

The new aircraft will complement the airline’s existing order for 20 CS300s and forms the backbone of its ‘Destination 2025’ business plan that is evolving on from the successful progress of its current ‘Horizon 2021’ plan.

The deal means the state-owned airline will eventually operate a fleet of up to 80 CS300 aircraft, phasing out its other aircraft types currently in use over the next three years. Deliveries from the new order are scheduled to start in the fourth quarter of 2019.

AirBaltic is currently operating eight CS300s in revenue service and is expected to take delivery of 12 more by 2019.

The Destination 2025 plan will see the carrier expand its routes from all three Baltic countries – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, covering essentially the main European cities. The strategy also foresees a significant increase in passenger numbers and revenue by 2025.

Martin Gauss, chief executive officer, said: “As an early adopter of the C Series, we took a forward-looking decision on advanced technology to support our turnaround plan leading to sustainable profitability, and today we are benefiting from the most fuel-efficient small single-aircraft. With demonstrated fuel savings of more than 22% the aircraft plays a vital role in maintaining our operating cost at a low level.

“In 2017, we experienced outstanding growth and showed the world the unique capabilities and comfort of this innovative aircraft. We successfully executed our fleet modernisation 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.”

He added: “We are now commencing the implementation of the next phase of our business strategy – Destination 2025, which foresees airBaltic expanding the map of our operations. A critical part of this new strategy is the introduction of a larger and exclusive fleet of all-CS300 aircraft, which are the most suitable aircraft for the markets in which we operate.”

“As the C Series aircraft programme continues to gain market acceptance, this significant reorder from our CS300 launch operator is a strong testimony to the aircraft’s exceptional in-service performance,” said Fred Cromer, president, Bombardier Commercial Aircraft.

AirBaltic serves over 70 routes from Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius. For summer 2018 it has introduced eight new destinations from Riga to Malaga, Lisbon, Split, Bordeaux, Gdansk, Almaty as well as Sochi and Kaliningrad. It also launched a new route connecting Tallinn and London.

[Photo: Martin Gauss, CEO, airBaltic at the announcement of its order for potentially up to 60 CS300 aircraft.]


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