airBaltic ups Bombardier order by half a billion dollars

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Latvia's national airline, airBaltic, announced Tuesday it was increasing its order for brand new Bombardier CS300 aircraft from 13 to 20 planes.

airBaltic already had 13 planes on order after initially ordering 10, then upping its order to 13. The airline is set to become the first in the world to operate the Canadian-built CS300 in its fleet and the additional order will mean its entire jet fleet will eventually be CS300s.

The first aircraft are due to arrive in Riga some time in the second half of this year and as LSM recently reported, airBaltic chief executive Martin Gauss has been keeping a close eye on production of the new planes.

Based on the list price of the CS300 airliner, this firm order is valued at approximately US $506 million (€443 million), bringing the total order of 20 planes up to around $1.5 billion.

“Our fleet modernization continues as we proudly increase our all-new CS300 aircraft to a fleet of 20 technologically-advanced jetliners in order to support our ‘Horizon 2021’ business plan," Gauss said of the decision.

"This will substantially improve the connectivity of the Baltic region with Western Europe and the Eastern markets – all of which will help stimulate the economies of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania, and create new jobs,” he said, in an effort to deflect likely criticism of the huge cost of the deal.

“The CS300 aircraft will improve our passenger experience and convenience as we position ourselves for growth, reaching new destinations due to the increased capabilities of our new jets joining us later this year,” he added.

The C Series family of aircraft is an all-new design that its makers claim offers operators "up to US $13 million extra value per aircraft."

Bombardier has so far booked orders and commitments for 678 C Series aircraft, which include firm orders for 250.

Established in 1995, airBaltic is 99.8% owned by the Latvian state and flies to over 60 destinations from its home base in Riga. as well as offering direct flights from Tallinn and Vilnius.

The current airBaltic fleet consists of 24 aircraft – 12 Boeing 737 and 12 Bombardier Q400 aircraft.

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