Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace has confirmed at this Dubai Air Show that Latvian national carrier, airBaltic will be the first operator of the larger CS300 version of the new CSeries airliner. The carrier will receive its first aircraft during the second half of 2016 and is considering network development opportunities that the modern generation aircraft can deliver.
airBaltic holds firm orders for 13 CS300s and options for a further seven aircraft and sees the CSeries as not just an efficient replacement for its older Boeing 737s, but also providing the right capacity and range to support the wider development of the business.
“Bombardier’s CS300 airliners are integral to the execution of airBaltic’s business development strategy and fleet optimization plan. As the airline increases its network potential, we will do so by replacing older jet aircraft,” said Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer, airBaltic.
The CS300 aircraft has exceeded our expectations in terms of its noise and emissions footprint, aligned with airBaltic’s low environmental impact vision. Additionally, it will offer airBaltic passengers a widebody, unparalleled in-flight passenger experience, perfectly complementing our modern fleet of 12 Bombardier Q400 turboprops,” he added.
The CS300 will seat between 130 and 160 passengers depending upon configuration and will have a range of up to 3,300 nautical miles. From a network perspective, Bombardier says in its corporate literature that the CSeries will deliver a 15 per cent cash operating cost advantage and a 20 per cent fuel burn advantage to customers, making this family the ideal candidate for longer, thinner routes.
This means airlines can connect far flung points on continents or sectors that were previously not profitable or possible. Its range means it can serve all of Canada and the US market from New York and could even fly as far south as Lima, Peru. Meanwhile, from Hong Kong it could fly as far south as northern Australia; from Dubai could cover 95 per cent of Africa, Paris to the west, Helsinki to the north and Hanoi and Kualu Lumpur to the east; and from Paris could reach Halifax and Quebec in Canada, all of Europe and the Gulf region and as far as Addis Ababa to the south.
Speaking at the Routes Silk Road forum earlier this year, airBaltic’s chief commercial officer, Christophe Viatte said the arrival of the CS300 will enable the carrier to better serve a number of destinations across its network, serving markets on a more sustainable basis and providing scope to more easily add frequencies to develop a more competitive product offering against industry rivals.
airBaltic plans to use the aircraft for a mix of short- and medium-haul flying, including its Riga – Abu Dhabi route which it serves in partnership with Etihad Airways. While the aircraft will be configured in a 160-seat arrangement for European flying, other arrangements of between 95- and 110-seats are being considered for longer missions.
According to Viatte, the CSeries will enable the carrier to expand more profitably in markets such as the Caucuses. “We have lots of plans with the new aircraft to develop in this region,” he said, noting that with Gulf carriers growing traffic between Europe and Asia, the Silk Road could offer a more convenient link to many destinations, especially those in North Asia. “There is huge potential for airlines to grow via Central Asia,” he added.
The first variant of the CSeries, the smaller CS100, will enter service with Swiss International Air Lines next year. The European airline has revealed it will announce its initial flight schedule for the type in the first quarter of next year, although London City Airport in the UK will be among the destinations to be served by the aircraft. The European flag carrier expects to put its first CS100 into passenger operation in the middle of next year but despite remaining tight-lipped on its launch route, confirmed it has already earmarked a late 2016 or early 2017 debut at London City for the C Series.