Farnborough Air Show

AirBaltic Readies for CS300 Service Launch

 - July 12, 2016, 4:05 PM

Joined by launch customer AirBaltic, Bombardier (Chalet C3, Outdoor Exhibit 24) reported at the Farnborough Airshow yesterday that it has made “further improvements in performance” for the C Series CS300. The good news includes increases in range that will enable the Latvian flag carrier to meet its goal of providing non-stop service between its Riga hub and Abu Dhabi. The companies also announced the airline has selected Bombardier’s Smart Parts Program to provide component support for its CS300 fleet. AirBaltic has 20 CS300s on order, with the first delivery slated for October, and an additional five expected by year’s end. Meanwhile, its pilots are training for the new aircraft at Bombardier’s Montreal facilities.

“Everything for us as operators, but also for our passengers, will be better in the future with this aircraft,” said AirBaltic CEO Martin Gauss, citing its increased range, reduced fuel burn, and comfortable and spacious cabin. Its aircraft will be equipped with seat-back IFE systems and “mood lighting” systems which Gauss said would help make flights more pleasant “as we fly a lot of time in darker weather.” The 145-seat configurations will have both economy and business-class sections.

By 2019 AirBaltic will have received all 20 of its CS300s, which will replace its mix of Boeing 737s, which Gauss termed “good aircraft, but they’re showing their age.” At that point AirBaltic, which also operates Q400 turboprops, will have “an all-Bombardier fleet,” Gauss said. In the interim, the carrier will expand its route structure to take advantage of the CS300’s range and lower cost of operation. “The CS300 will enable us to serve destinations we could not use in the past,” said Gauss. “We can even use them on the short routes.”

AirBaltic placed its initial CS300 order in 2012, when the carrier was suffering deep losses and attempting a turnaround. Well-publicized C Series delays pushed the scheduled deliveries back two years, but “at no time were we in doubt” about the future of the program, he said. “We see today we are proven right, following our plan and executing it.” Indeed, AirBaltic placed an order for seven more of the aircraft while it was waiting.

Referring to the launch customer for the CS100, on static display here and scheduled to enter service this Friday, Gauss said, “I can’t tell you how it felt seeing Swiss [International Airlines] taking the -100. I can only imagine what it will be like for us in Latvia when we take on the -300.”

Meanwhile, the five-year Smart Parts agreement provides AirBaltic with maintenance, repair and overhaul services, access to a strategically located spare parts exchange pool, and on-site inventory based at the airline’s hub.

Turbo Porter

In additional sales news, Bombardier and Toronto’s Porter Airlines announced and signed a firm purchase agreement for three Q400 turboprops, a contract valued at about $93 million at list price. Robert Deluce, Porter’s president and CEO, called the Q400 “everything you could ask for in a turboprop. Porter, which exclusively operates Q400s, currently has 26 in its fleet. o