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AirBaltic to Become the Largest European A220 Operator
Airbaltic, Latvian national carrier, plans to take the next step in growth by placing another Airbus A220 order
Airlines and other industry participants are bidding more and more amazing announcements at the Dubai Airshow this year. AirBaltic, an airline very active in marketing activities in cooperation with Airbus, has chosen this time to announce the extension of its Airbus A220 order.
Adding to an already sizeable fleet
In a significant pivot in the carrier’s history, in 2016, airBaltic took a first step to streamline its fleet to a single type. The decision was made to place the bets on the up and coming new aircraft on the market – the Bombardier CS300, soon to become the Airbus A220. Fast forward 44 deliveries later, after becoming the launch customer, airBaltic is one of the biggest Airbus A220 operators in the world.
In 2023, during the world-renowned Dubai Airshow, the next chapter of that story has been written. Airbaltic has placed a firm order for another 30 units of the A220 family.
“This day marks a significant milestone in the history of airBaltic – our plans for the first time ever to operate a fleet of 100 aircraft by 2030. For almost seven years already, the Airbus A220-300 has been the backbone of our operations and has played an integral role in the international success story of airBaltic”, said Martin Gauss, President and CEO of airBaltic. “Being the global launch customer of the Airbus A220-300, we continue to be a proud ambassador of it. We are grateful to our partners at Airbus for the incredible support, trust, and collaboration over these years.”
Hybrid… in a few ways
Airbaltic is often called a hybrid airline. Something in-between a full-service carrier of the likes of Lufthansa or British Airways and a low-cost carriers like Ryanair or easyJet. Fact of the matter is that its operating model is very close to the latter with distributed operations and a single-type fleet. Still though, the carrier uses Global Distribution Systems to sell tickets as well as offers tickets with a connection in its home base in Riga.
A new dimension towards being a hybrid airline arose after the pandemic slowdown. AirBaltic has chosen a safety net in its operations by wet-leasing part of its fleet to other carriers. This acts as a steady income stream employing part of the fleet on the outside markets. Last year this strategy put airBaltic in a peculiar situation as the carrier, grappling with its own engine-related problems, had to wet lease from other carriers to maintain its scheduled operations.
Nevertheless, this way of doing business lessens the stress being put on the airBaltic home-market of the Baltic states – Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. At the same, it brings necessary stability and helps put the incoming aircraft to work.
The coming Initial Public Offering
Being one of the airlines that accepted state aid in the downturn of the pandemic, airBaltic plans to return the injected funds through an IPO. The carrier is already taking steps on that path, with the schedule to complete it somewhere between 2024 and 2026.
From this point of view, the placed order becomes a growth story for the management to build and potential investors to buy.
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