Does Air Baltic really need 30 new aircraft?
The Latvian airline Air Baltic has ordered 30 new aircraft from the ailing Airbus partner Bombardier. The purchase, valued at around five billion euros, is the biggest in the history of the airline. Commentators discuss whether the deal is a clever investment.
Purchase gives wings to Latvian economy
The purchase is a sound investment in a growing sector of the Latvian economy, Diena writes approvingly:
“In recent times it has often been stressed that we should develop transport and tourism in a bid to increase economic growth. And air transport plays a key role in this respect. Both the ministry of the economy and the OECD have underlined that business trips are among Latvia's most competitive tourism products. And business travellers, in turn, are among those travellers who don't want to waste their time. Consequently they keep a close eye on the airlines' offers. And the more these correspond to their wishes, the greater the benefit to our economy will be.”
Airline needs more than just new planes
Business paper Dienas bizness seriously doubts that purchasing new aircraft will bring success:
“The question is whether Air Baltic will be able to keep up with the competition, and whether we'll have enough pilots to fly all the planes. ... One also wonders whether the company will be able to increase its market share. Air Baltic chief Martin Gauss and Transport Minister Uldis Augulis say that there's no big hurry in the search for a strategic investor, and that the new aircraft will make the company more attractive for potential investors. But there are many experts who believe that, given the stiffer competition, the 'pride of Latvia' [Air Baltic] will be economically unviable without such a 'big brother'.”