Aircraft noise: airBaltic has something to shout about
Our colleague, John Grant, recently wrote about the need to find the right fit between aircraft size and the market in an article for AviaDev in the run up to their June conference in Cape Town. He used the example of Fastjet, the pan-African franchise carrier, downsizing from A319’s to smaller Embraer 145 and 170 aircraft types.
This week we’ve been in Riga for the first ever Riga Aviation Forum, a gathering of the great and the good in Latvian aviation. The great included airBaltic, which is also a good example of an airline finding and investing in an aircraft which is the right fit for their market. Back in 2012 the airline made the brave and bold decision to be the launch customer for the Bombardier CS300 aircraft, and that was before the aircraft was even in production.
As Pauls Calitis, Senior VP Flight Operations, at airBaltic told the conference, the airline has achieved remarkable results since bringing the C series into the fleet in December 2016. 97% dispatch reliability. More than 18 block hours per aircraft per day. 20% less fuel burn that a B737. Range that means they can fly to Abu Dhabi or Tenerife with a full payload.
As Pauls also said, airBaltic has been travelling around the world, telling their story at trade fairs and air shows, and visibility of the airline name has shot up. It rarely hurts brand reputation to be seen as a successful market leader reputation and that reputation has been aided, no doubt, by recognition from OAG that they are the world’s most punctual airline.
So what did we actually make of the CS300 flight between Gatwick and Riga once we’d adjusted to the unusual seat configuration of 2 seats on the left and 3 on the right? The overhead bins were noticeably larger than normal. The cabin interior was light and airy which we now understand was down to the windows being 26% larger than the usual aircraft windows. What was less obvious was how quiet the flight was. Noise, as with any hygiene factor, is one of those things we notice when there is a problem and it was only at the conference when the lower noise level was pointed out that we recalled just how quiet the flight had been. Is this something that airBaltic needs to be shouting about a bit more?