CANCUN, Mexico (Reuters) – AirBaltic is planning to buy at least 14 new planes with more than 100 seats to replace the turboprops in its fleet, with planemakers Bombardier <BBDb.TO> or Embraer <EMBR3.SA> in the running for the deal, the Latvian-based airline’s CEO said on Monday.
Air Baltic is looking to broaden its network and plans to increase passengers numbers to 4.2 million in 2021 from an expected 3.2 million this year.
“We asked interested parties to come and make us an offer. That’s happening right now,” AirBaltic’s Martin Gauss told Reuters on the sidelines of an airline industry meeting in Mexico.
The order would be for 14 planes for delivery from 2020, likely with options for more as the airline seeks to grow, Gauss said.
Embraer and Bombardier are the two planemakers that make a jet of the size AirBaltic is interested in, Gauss said. He said a decision would be made this year, although not in time for the Paris airshow later this month.
Air Baltic was the first airline to operate the larger variant of Bombardier’s CSeries jet and will be displaying one of the jets at the airshow.
Like other European carriers, Gauss said the start to the year for AirBaltic has been good, with robust European economies and low interest rates helping to drive demand for air travel.
He also said the Latvian government, which owns 80 percent of the carrier, is aiming to sell a stake in the carrier late this year or early next year and that teaser documents had been sent out to interested parties.
(Reporting by Victoria Bryan; Editing by Bill Trott)