Latvian national carrier airBaltic has placed a large follow-up order for the Bombardier CS300 as part of its new business plan to streamline its fleet to one aircraft type and expand its network.
The airline announced a firm commitment May 28 for 30 additional aircraft plus options and purchase rights for a further 30. The aircraft from this order will start to be delivered from the fourth quarter of 2019, according to Bombardier.
AirBaltic was the launch operator of the CS300. The airline has taken eight aircraft so far and has 12 more to be delivered between now and the end of 2019. Management under CEO Martin Gauss has been conducting a strategy review for some time and identified several options. The most ambitious project was to add Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania as new bases.
“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,” Gauss said. “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.
A significant part of the firm order is to replace other aircraft types. AirBaltic has a fleet of 31 aircraft, among them 11 Boeing 737s and 12 Bombardier Q400s. The 737s and the Q400s will all be phased out. AirBaltic has been flying the Q400s on long routes with significant demand, such as Riga-Munich or Riga-Brussels, because it did not have enough larger aircraft available.
The airline operates a relatively small hub in Riga offering connections between Europe and destinations in the Baltic region, and into Scandinavia, Eastern Europe and Russia.
“2017 was the most successful year in the history of airBaltic during which the company achieved exceptional operational and financial results,” Latvia Transport Minister Uldis Augulis said.
Airbaltic is 80% owned by the Latvian government. Danish investor Lars Thuesen controls the remaining 20%. Talks with investors that would take over majority control of the airline have been ongoing and were expected to be concluded by this time. However, airBaltic made no mention of where the process stands when it announced the order.