airBaltic to replace its Q400s with jets
The Latvian airline operator airBaltic plans to replace its 12 Bombardier Q400s with Bombardier CSeries or Embraer E195-E2s.
Martin Gauss, CEO of AirBaltic, said that the company would soon announce an order to replace the Q400s in its fleet. According to Mr. Gauss, the turboprop era is over and his company will replace all turboprops with the new generation jets.
airbaltic already operates seven CS300s, of which it is the launch company and has 13 others awaiting delivery.
"The decision to replace our Q400 with jets has already been taken, so it's just a question of when we will announce the order," he said. The Riga-based company currently operates 12 Q400s, whose lease expires in 2021-2022. But the company plans to have new jets from 2019-2020 and stop turboprop operations earlier.
Gauss said that the E195-E2 and CS100 / 300 series are competing for the order, which would cover at least 14 replacement aircraft and possibly more for growth. The final decision has not yet been announced.
The 20% of the company is owned today by the Danish Danish Jet Time and the rest owned by the Latvian government.
airbaltic already operates seven CS300s, of which it is the launch company and has 13 others awaiting delivery. The next plane will arrive in October or November, but there will be a break until late spring, the next six aircraft will join the fleet in the summer of 2018. In addition to the CS300 and Q400, airBaltic owns five Boeing 737-500s and six 737-300s (nine owned and two rented). These aircraft will be sold and returned from 2020.
Privatization in progress
The 20% of the company is owned today by Danish contractor Lars Thuesen, owner of the Danish Jet Time and the rest owned by the Latvian government. Latvian government plans to sell its share and several airlines are interested in the government share in the company. Interested parties have access to airBaltic data, while others can still join the process until the end of this year.
airBaltic is pursuing a strategy to link the Baltic region with the existing major centers, such as Abu Dhabi and Amsterdam. It has also expanded code-sharing and interline agreements. It has added 13 new routes this year and has announced another five routes by 2018. Asia is a region where it seeks to establish connectivity.