Flight Heraklion (Crete, Greece) – Riga (Latvia)
The Bombardier CSeries or C Series is a family of narrow-body, twin-engine, medium-range jet airliners by Canadian manufacturer Bombardier Aerospace.
The 108 to 133-seat CS100 (officially BD-500-1A10) made its maiden flight on 16 September 2013, was awarded an initial type certification by Transport Canada on 18 December 2015 and entered service on 15 July 2016 with Swiss Global Air Lines.
The 130 to 160-seat CS300 (officially BD-500-1A11) first flew on 27 February 2015, received an initial type certification on 11 July 2016, and entered service with launch customer airBaltic on 14 December 2016.
The Bombardier CSeries aircraft contains a high proportion of composite materials and features larger windows. The CSeries cabin features large, rotating overhead storage bins, allowing each passenger to stow a sizeable carry-on bag overhead. Compared to the cabins of current in-service narrowbody aircraft, the CSeries provides airlines with the highest overhead bin volume per passenger and a wider aisle that allows for faster boarding and disembarkation of passengers.
The CSeries aircraft contain 70% advanced materials comprising 46% composite materials and 24% aluminium-lithium. Bombardier offers an overall 15% lower seat-mile cost, 20% lower fuel burn and a CO2 emissions advantage, a 25% reduction in maintenance costs and four-fold reduction in the noise footprint compared to existing production aircraft.
The CS100 is to compete with the Embraer E195-E2 while the CS300 is to compete with the Boeing 737 MAX 7, Airbus A319neo, and Irkut MC-21-200.
The effect of stiff competition and production delays was apparent in early 2016. On 20 January, United Continental Holdings ordered 40 Boeing 737-700 aircraft instead. Aside from ready availability of aircraft already in full production, the purchase of Boeing vs. the Bombardier CSeries was financially prudent. Since United already flies 310 of the 737, there will be savings for pilot training and fewer spare parts will need to be stocked. Boeing also reportedly gave United a massive 73% discount on the 737 deal, dropping the price to $22 million per aircraft, well below the CS300 market value at $36 million. In November 2016, United deferred this order to save $1.6Bn in CAPEX or $26 million per 61 aircraft.
David Tyerman, an analyst with Canaccord Genuity offered the following assessment of the impact of this news to the Toronto Star: “This just shows how difficult it is for Bombardier to win orders these days. It’s not the end of the world, but this loss illustrates what they are up against. It also raises the question of how profitable the next C Series order they win will be for them.”
On 17 February 2016, Air Canada signed a letter of intent with Bombardier for up to 75 CS300 aircraft as part of its narrowbody fleet renewal plan. This comprised 45 firm orders, plus options for an additional 30 aircraft. It includes substitution rights to CS100 aircraft in certain circumstances, with deliveries to occur from late 2019 to 2022. The $3.8 billion order for 45 CS300 aircraft was finalized on 28 June 2016.
On 28 April 2016, Bombardier and Delta Air Lines announced a sale for 75 CS100 firm orders and 50 options, the first aircraft should enter service in spring 2018. Airways News believe that a substantial 65 to 70% discount off the $71.8 million list price was provided making the final sale at $24.6–28.7 million price per aircraft; this large order from a major carrier could help Bombardier to break the Boeing/Airbus duopoly on narrowbody aircraft. With those 127 firm orders in early 2016, introduction should be with a firm backlog of more than 300 orders and up to 800 aircraft including options, conditional orders, letters of intent and purchase rights; they imply an onerous contract provision of around $500 million, $3.9 million per order.
airBaltic, legally incorporated as AS Air Baltic Corporation, is a state-owned Latvian low-cost carrier and the country’s flag carrier, with its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport in Mārupe municipality near Riga. Its main hub is at Riga International Airport with further bases at Tallinn Airport and Vilnius Airport.
The Bombardier CS300 delivery was much anticipated by airBaltic, since this new aircraft type will replace most of the airline’s Boeing 737-300’s and Boeing 737-500’s. The delivery of the CS300 happened on November 29 2016 at 2am ET. The airline received two CS300 in 2016 and expects to receive six in 2017, eight in 2018 and four more in 2020.