Latvian national carrier airBaltic is to collaborate with hydrogen-propulsion pioneer Fokker Next Gen on its clean-sheet, liquid hydrogen-fuelled narrowbody aircraft.

The manufacturer intends to build a commercial aircraft primarily optimised to operate on liquid hydrogen, with a range of up to 2,500km. An initial converted Fokker 100 prototype is anticipated to make its first hydrogen-powered flight in 2028, while the manufacturer intends to commence assembly of a clean-sheet conceptual prototype by 2032. Entry into service is planned for 2035.

With Fokker Next Gen intending to produce aircraft both in the Netherlands and in Latvia, airBaltic president CEO Martin Gauss said he was “glad to see such innovative developments being worked on in the Baltic region”. He added that airBaltic was glad to “collaborate with Fokker Next Gen by sharing our insights and expertise in their work to develop a hydrogen-powered aircraft,” something airBaltic sees as “an important step for the future of aviation”.

Although airBaltic operates one of the youngest fleets in Europe (exclusively comprised of the Airbus A220-300), the airline “also do understand that the aviation industry needs a joint effort in new technology developments in order to achieve its long-term commitments,” added Gauss. The airline currently operates 47 A220-300s and intends to raise this number to 100 by 2030.

Fokker Next Gen CEO Juriaan Kellerman described airBaltic’s engagement with hydrogen-powered aircraft as “crucial,” adding: “Our joint effort not only propels forward innovative aircraft design, informed by direct user feedback, but also boosts the Dutch and Latvian economies.”

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