CANADIAN plane-maker Bombardier has agreed a potential £4.4 billion (US$ 5.9 billion) deal to sell up to 60 of its C Series aircraft to low-cost Latvian carrier airBaltic.
Bombardier confirmed yesterday that an initial £2.2 bn (US$2.9bn) agreement has been reached for the sale of 30 CS300 aircraft, with the option of a further 30 in the future. If the option is taken up by airBaltic the total value is estimated at £4.4bn (US$ 5.9 bn). The latest deal comes just months after the US International Trade Commission (ITC) ruled in favour of Bombardier in its dispute with Boeing, safeguarding thousands of jobs in Northern Ireland.
Bombardier had previously faced the prospect of having US trade tariffs of 292 per cent placed on its C Series jets, directly threatening the future of 1,000 staff in Belfast who help build the aircraft’s wings.
The new order sees airBaltic become Europe's largest C Series customer and the second biggest internationally, with 50 aircraft now on firm order. The new planes are to facilitate additional routes from Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania.
Bombardier Commercial Aircraft president, Fred Cromer welcomed the latest deal.
“As the C Series aircraft program continues to gain market acceptance, this significant reorder from our CS300 launch operator is a strong testimony to the aircraft’s exceptional in-service performance,” he said.
"Furthermore, we are proud that the CS300 has helped airBaltic maintain its position as one of the world’s most punctual airlines. The C Series aircraft is at the forefront of the small single-aisle market, and airBaltic played a key role in demonstrating its value."
CEO at airBaltic, Martin Gauss said the early adoption of the C Series has supported the company's turnaround plan, leading to "sustainable profitability".
"In 2017, we experienced outstanding growth and showed the world the unique capabilities and comfort of this innovative aircraft. We successfully executed our fleet modernization strategy, and are excited to further grow our fleet up to 80 CS300 aircraft while phasing out our other aircraft types in the next three years,”
“The new order is the largest investment in Latvia’s history and plays an important role in the development of the air infrastructure of the Baltic region with wide-ranging effects on exports, economy and jobs," he said.
Deliveries for the new order are scheduled to commence at the end of next year.
In other news Bombardier has also announced the addition of two new aircraft to its business jet fleet, both of which will be partly built in Belfast.
Bombardier launched the Global 5500 and Global 6500 aircraft yesterday, with staff in Belfast responsible for the forward fuselage, engine nacelles, horizontal stabiliser and other components on the jets. The new aircraft build on the success Global 5000 and Global 6000 aircraft and offer 500 and 600 nautical miles of additional range, respectively, coupled with an up to 13-per-cent fuel burn advantage. Both new aircraft are due to enter service at the end of 2019.
President of Bombardier Business Aircraft, David Coleal, added:
“Bombardier’s two newest Global aircraft are the result of our unrelenting commitment to innovation, excellence and most of all, our desire to deliver unmatched capabilities to our customers.”