Economy & Politics: Why the Latvian airline airBaltic now only uses a fleet of Airbus A220-300

Last Updated on 2020-10-30 by Birk Ecke

The CEO of the Latvian airline and commercial pilot, Martin Gauss, is visibly enthusiastic about the Airbus A220-300. The aircraft was originally designed and built by Bombardier as the CS300. The type certification by Transport Canada took place in December 2015. airBaltic was the first customer to receive the first production aircraft at the end of November 2016. However, Bombardier ran into financial difficulties due to high development costs and delays in the project. After a sale of the CS300 to the Brazilian aircraft manufacturer Embraer failed, Airbus had a majority of 75% in this aircraft program by 2020. The Canadian province of Québec holds the remaining 25%.

Image: airBaltic Bombardier CS300 at Rīga Airport. Recorded in October 2017. Today airBaltic has still only the modern and fuel efficient Airbus A220-300 in service. Double click on the image to enlarge.

Image: airBaltic Bombardier CS300 at Rīga Airport.
Recorded in October 2017.
Today airBaltic has still only the modern and fuel efficient Airbus A220-300 in service.
Double click on the image to enlarge.


In fact, the Airbus A220-300 or C-Series CS300 is currently the only type of aircraft that has been specially developed for a capacity of 130 to 160 passengers (2 classes / 1 class). The biggest competitor is the Brazilian Embraer 195-E2, which was delivered for the first time in 2006 and is therefore also quite modern. However, the Embraer 195-E2 is an elongated version of a previous model and is still equipped with CF34-10E jet engines, which were only approved in 2005, but essentially go back to the late 1960s. The two engines each have 81.3 kN of thrust. The two modern PW1500G high-bypass engines of the A220-300 create 104 kN of thrust each thanks to the bypass ratio that is more than twice as high.

The technical data contribute to the success of the Airbus A220-300. The modern PW1500G engines with a transmission gear between the low-pressure part and fan as well as significantly lower kerosene consumption and also significantly lower noise emissions bring significant advantages for the operator. The CO2 and NOX emissions are 20% and 50% respectively below those of the competition. The noise emission is 4 times lower. You can also see the aerodynamic qualities of the A220-300. There are no longer any steep cockpit windows and the wing tips are equipped with winglets.

The Embraer 195-E2 can therefore neither score with lower consumption nor with coping with difficult starting conditions (keyword: hot and high). Only the price is significantly lower than that of an A220-300. There is no need to talk about seating comfort: the 195-E2 is really extremely narrow in the shoulder area. Another competitor is or was the Boeing 737 MAX 7. This type of aircraft was made worse with every upgrade because many decades ago the 737 was designed for small JT8 engines with a very low bypass ratio.

airBaltic published the following statement on its website in a press release dated August 20, 2020:: “The Airbus A220-300 has performed beyond the company’s expectations, delivering better overall performance, fuel efficiency and convenience for both passengers and the staff. This aircraft offers an excellent flying experience with such benefits for passengers as wider seats, larger windows, more hand luggage space in the cabin, improved lavatories and much more …”

Personally, I am really proud of this praise from Martin Gauss. I’ve been working for Germany’s largest engine manufacturer for more than 20 years and have put the PW1500G engine to our sea level test bed. It’s not just the quieter engine that makes this jet a successful model, it’s also the refined aerodynamics of the entire aircraft. Since airBaltic put the A220neo into operation, I’ve flown it several times and I’ve always felt comfortable.Well done Bombardier and Airbus. A completely different level of comfort than in an Embraer.


Externe Links:

airBaltic and Airbus Revise A220-300 Delivery Schedule to Complete Firm Order in 2024


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