airBaltic will be first to fly new Bombardier planes

Latvian national airline airBaltic should be the first carrier in the world to fly the new CS300 planes manufactured by Canada's Bombardier, the aircraft maker announced November 8.

In a statement released at the Dubai Air Show, Bombardier said: "Bombardier Commercial Aircraft confirmed today that Riga, Latvia-based Air Baltic Corporation AS (airBaltic) will be the first customer to operate the CS300 aircraft when it takes delivery in the second half of 2016.  

"The Latvian flag carrier has 13 CS300 aircraft on firm order and retains options for seven CS300 aircraft."

airBaltic chief executve officer Martin Gauss said the new planes would be "integral to the execution of airBaltic’s business development strategy and fleet optimization plan." 

Bombardier has "firm orders" for 243 of the new generation planes, with airBaltic among the first to sign up.

However, it wasn't all good news for airBaltic at the weekend with government coalition members continuing to wrangle over a controversial proposed investment plan for the future of the airline that has already brought about the dismissal of transport minister Anrijs Matiss.

In addition, a European Commission decision on November 9 led to the immediate bankruptcy of Estonia's Estonian Air flag carrier after falling foul of EU rules on state aid.

While airBaltic was quick to announce its intention to expand its operations to and from Tallinn as a result, the EC decision will also have provoked a degree of unease in the state-owned company as any similar Commission ruling that airBaltic should quickly pay back the millions pumped into it from the public purse would likely lead it to a similar fate as its erstwhile rival.

Potential investor Ralph Dieter Montag-Girmes is due to meet the press Monday with politicians still arguing about whether he is the right man to take 20% of the company's shares - despite the apparent lack of alternatives even after a four-year search for investors.

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