AirBaltic is scheduled to take delivery of the first of up to 20 Bombardier CS300s in the first quarter of 2015 under an agreement announced during the Farnborough air show today.

The Latvian carrier has signed a letter of intent to buy 10 of the 130-seat aircraft and has purchase rights for 10 more. The initial 10 aircraft are set for delivery by 2017.

"We reviewed the narrowbody platforms from the major airframers and determined that the all-new CS300 aircraft was the best fit," says Martin Gauss, chief executive of AirBaltic. "The superb economics of the aircraft and the delivery timeframe that is available to us are also key factors in our decision."

AirBaltic has the option to convert some of its order to 110-seat CS100s, adds Gauss. It will replace Boeing 737-300s and 737-500s with the CS300s.

The carrier has nine 737-300s and six 737-500s in its fleet, according to Flightglobal's Ascend database.

Gauss says AirBaltic may order Boeing 737-800s and additional Bombardier Q400s if demand warrants it in the future.

The Canadian manufacturer values the CS300 order at $764 million for the first 10 aircraft.

Gauss says the airline will fund the prepayment for the aircraft from cash on its balance sheet. It is in talks with various aircraft finance players regarding delivery financing, he adds.

AirBaltic is in discussions about acquiring a CSeries flight simulator for its training centre in the Latvian capital Riga, says Gauss.

Bombardier has orders and commitments for 352 CSeries aircraft, which includes both the CS100 and the CS300. The first flight is scheduled for the end of this year.

Source: Air Transport Intelligence news