Commission official: airBaltic likely to find investor soon

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Henrik Hololei, the European Commission's director general for mobility and transport, has described the decision of the Latvian airline airBaltic to buy up to 60 brand new Bombardier CS300 aircraft as good news and something in the interest of the entire Baltic region as the region's connectivity will improve, adding that the company surely will find a strategic investor in the near future.

Hololei told Postimees that finding a strategic investor may be slowed down by the requirement of the European Union that an investor from outside the EU must not hold over 49% of the shares and effective control of the company must be exercised by investors of EU origin.

"At the same time, further consolidation on the EU airline market is inevitable, and it is only a matter of time when airBaltic will find such investor. The company doing well and making sensible investments in the future will definitely raise its value and interest toward it will grow," Hololei said.

airBaltic announced on May 28 that it is about to place an order for up to 60 brand new Bombardier CS300 aircraft for an estimated up to 4.8 billion euros. CEO Martin Gauss told reporters that the company is in the process of ordering 30 brand new aircraft and getting an option for 30 more. The transaction would make airBaltic the biggest user of CS300s in Europe. The CEO added that with an aircraft fleet like this, airBaltic will be a very attractive investment for investors in the future.

"Excellent news. airBaltic is doing well and they have sound trust in what lies ahead. airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss recently got his contract extended, which confirms a clear trust in the chosen strategy and outlooks for the future," Hololei said.

The European Commission's director general for mobility and transport hailed Bombardier CS300 as very good and efficient aircraft and praised the Latvian carrier for its decision to stick with one type of aircraft, as this helps to significantly save on costs.

Speaking at Monday's press conference, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said while the company continues to be on the lookout for a strategic investor, the decision on the investment in new aircraft demonstrates that they are capable of following through with the transaction on their own. He also said that bringing in a strategic investor was definitely not going to happen immediately.

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