Bombardier CS300 launch operator airBaltic will begin direct flights from Riga to Abu Dhabi as part of a network expansion facilitated by the new aircraft.
The Latvian carrier will receive six of its 20 CS300s this year, with the first due for delivery in October and Chief Executive Officer Martin Gauss explained that while the jets will be phased in gradually they will cover the entire network “sooner or later”.
One of the challenges airBaltic gave Bombardier was to enable direct flights between the airline’s Riga base and Abu Dhabi, a journey of 2,338nm (4,333km). At the Farnborough International Airshow, Rob Dewar, Vice President CSeries Aircraft Program, confirmed that the range for airBaltic out of Riga was 2,469nm (4,573km). Amongst the host of new services the airline is looking to introduce are links from Riga to Manchester, Dublin and Reykjavik.
“The CS300 will enable us to serve destinations which we were not able to in the past. We can use the aircraft on all destinations airBaltic has, even on the short ones,” Gauss told journalists during a CS300 briefing at Farnborough. Gauss told Airliner World that flights to Abu Dhabi would not start this year. “We will decide when we come to the schedule and planning over the next year.” He said that the link to Abu Dhabi would be a “normal flight” and that turnaround times would be no different to the airline’s current operations.
As part of its mission to become a pan-Baltic carrier, the airline is also operating flights from Tallinn in Estonia and Vilnius in Lithuania and these will also be served by the C Series.
With the first aircraft due to be delivered in October, focus is switching to the CS300’s entry into service (EIS) and Gauss is aware that there will be a lot of attention placed on both the manufacturer and the carrier. The airBaltic CEO said that there was no formal agreement in place with CS100 launch operator Swiss but the two airlines were exchanging information during the EIS phase.
No announcement has been made on which destinations the CS300 will serve first. “We are finalising it and we will announce it in September, together with Bombardier,” Gauss told Airliner World. “We can fly to any destination but for the entry into service of course there is a lot of demand.”
The airline’s aircraft will be fitted with 145 seats and a curtain will be used to divide the Business and Economy cabins. Gauss revealed airBaltic’s jets would feature Bombardier’s built-in in-flight entertainment system enabling the carrier to provide passengers with gate information, a moving map, safety demonstration videos and other customisable content. He confirmed that the airline would introduce Wi-Fi to the CS300 but that it wasn’t fitted on the initial example.