AirBaltic adjusts CS300 delivery schedule

AirBaltic will receive all of the 20 Bombardier CS300 it has on order by 2020 The Latvian airline will receive all of the 20 Bombardier CS300s it has on order by 2020 (Photo by airBaltic)

Latvia’s national carrier airBaltic has recently taken delivery of its first Bombardier CS300 and will thus become one of the first operators of this narrow-body modification in the world. Following the first delivery, airBaltic announced the new delivery schedule for the remaining 19 aircraft of the type it has on order. One more aircraft will arrive at Riga before the end of the year; another six will enter service with the airline in 2017, eight in 2018 and four in 2019, airBaltic’s CEO Martin Gauss revealed.

According to the initial plan, the airline was supposed to receive five CS300s in 2016, but the schedule had to be revised due to hurdles with deliveries of Pratt & Whitney PW1500G engines caused by program delays.

The CS300s will gradually replace ageing Boeing 737-300/500s in airBaltic’s fleet. The latter will be phased out progressively as the new aircraft arrive. The replacement should be complete by 2020. Martin Gauss explained that his airline has been gradually buying out its Boeing 737s (it currently owns nine airframes) from lessors to be able to sell them when an opportunity occurs. The strategy is expected to help the carrier control its cash flow more efficiently.

Since CS300 offers more range than 737CL, airBaltic is intending to introduce new, longer routes with flight duration of up to 6-7 hours. Gauss said that, although this potentially means the carrier would be able to fly to far-off regions of Russia, it has no plans to do so in the short-term. The Latvian airline currently operates direct flights from Riga to Moscow (Sheremetyevo) and St. Petersburg. Traffic from other parts of Russia is generated through the airline’s code-sharing agreement with Aeroflot as well as interline agreements with UTair and S7 Airlines.

The Latvian carrier does not intend to alter the CS300’s typical cabin configuration designed for 145 passengers, including the five in business-class. However, on the flights to Abu-Dhabi, which the airline is just considering, it may change the configuration to somewhat more spacious.

For CS300 maintenance airBaltic will initially rely on Bombardier, but may later on switch to an independent MRO provider.

According to Fred Cromer, president of Bombardier Commercial Aircraft, the OEM will deliver the total of seven CSeries aircraft this year, including two more CS300 for airBaltic and five shorter CS100 for Swiss. Production rates will be boosted next year to reach 30-35 aircraft.

Korean Air will be the next operator of CS300. It has 10 aircraft on order and expects to start commercial operations of the type net year.

By Valentin Makov

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