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DUBAI: Air Baltic plans for CSeries-only fleet

Latvian carrier Air Baltic will aim to move to an exclusive Bombardier CSeries fleet with its intention to acquire at least another 14 of the twinjets.

Air Baltic is displaying one of its CS300s at the Dubai air show.

Chief executive Martin Gauss, speaking to FlightGlobal at the show, said that the CSeries would not only replace the Boeing 737-300s and -500s but also the Bombardier Q400s as they approached the end of their lease.

Much of the leased Q400 fleet is around seven or eight years old. The 737 fleet is mainly owned and Gauss says the carrier has the "flexibility" to sell them.

Gauss says the Q400 is unsuitable for longer routes on which the carrier uses the turboprop, such as those to Brussels, Vienna and Prague.

"They should go to jet," he says. He particularly notes that longer flights can generate queues for the forward washroom, which is not ideal for passengers in the business cabin.

"[The Q400] is a good aircraft for what it's supposed to be but it can't cope with something like this," he says.

Routes of over 6h for the CSeries are "no problem", he states. The interior can be modified, if necessary, with an additional lavatory module instead of two aft seats.

Gauss points out a number of interior cabin features of the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G-powered aircraft, including the large windows, upright cabin walls, spacious five-abreast seating, and the "clean" appearance, which he partly attributes to the lack of excessive labelling.

The company pressed for approval of symbol-based passenger information and instruction labels rather than language-based ones which would have required various translations.

Gauss says the airline could consider switching to the CS100 for specific routes – particularly if it chose to operate to such restricted airports as London City.

He says the CS300's higher seating capacity is an advantage over the Q400, pointing out that the cost per seat is "so low" on the jet that the carrier can afford to operate sectors with relatively low load factors, in the knowledge that it has flexibility to accommodate more passengers at other times.

Air Baltic has newly opened a route to neighbouring Abu Dhabi and Gauss says the aircraft is performing well two weeks into the service.

Simulations of the environment, he says, showed the CS300 was able to operate unrestricted with a full load at temperatures of 42C.

For all the coverage from the Dubai air show visit our dedicated event page

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