Air Baltic has announced that it will retire its Boeing 737 aircraft this fall, one year earlier than originally planned. The airline will replace the 737s with Airbus A220-300 aircraft over the next few years.
What did Air Baltic say?
Air Baltic’s CEO Martin Gauss stated, “Airbus A220-300 is the aircraft of our future and, by phasing out the Boeing 737, we will have the youngest jet fleet in Europe. The introduction of Airbus A220-300 has been very successful and provided the additional efficiency any airline is seeking in the highly competitive aviation market. Thanks to the good overall performance we took a decision to introduce a single type fleet of up to 80 (50 firm order and 30 options) Airbus A220-300 aircraft by 2022.”
Furthermore, the airline mentioned in its Press Release that it “aims to minimize complexity.”
Air Baltic currently has 14 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in its fleet and is scheduled to receive eight A220s this year. Latvia’s flag carrier also operates six Boeing 737-300, two Boeing 737-500 as well as 12 Bombardier Q400 turboprop aircraft. The airline phased out three 737-500s late last year.
While Air Baltic has specific plans for its Boeing 737 aircraft, it is not clear when it will retire its Bombardier Q400s.
The airline calls itself a “hybrid airline,” because it takes “the best practices both from traditional network airlines and low cost carriers.” It offers direct flights from the capitals of the Baltic States, Riga (Latvia), Tallinn (Estonia), and Vilnius (Lithuania). Its destinations include cities in Europe, the Middle East and the Commonwealth of Independent States.
The airline has codeshare agreements with various airlines, including Air France, British Airways, Etihad Airways, KLM Royal Dutch Airlines, and TAP Portugal.
Air Baltic’s A220s
Air Baltic received its first A220 in 2016 when it was still known as the Bombardier CS300.
The airline’s A220-300s offer seats for 145 passengers. They boast a range of 4,575 km and a cruising speed of 871 km/h.
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Air Baltic is a big fan of the aircraft due to the great flying experience it offers its passengers. The aircraft features wider seats and larger windows as well as more space for hand luggage in the cabin. Furthermore, Air Baltic appreciates its reduced noise level and reduced emissions.
Interestingly, Air Baltic will wet-lease two of its Airbus A220s to Lufthansa starting March. These aircraft will support Lufthansa’s operation during the busy summer months. They will be based at Munich’s Franz-Josef-Strauss Airport (MUC).
According to Simple Flying, Air Baltic is even considering launching a brand new all Airbus A220 airline.
Several airlines have been very successful with only one fleet type; Southwest Airlines is just one example. As a matter of fact, fleet uniformity can lead to significant cost savings primarily due to reduced maintenance and training costs.
Nevertheless, only time will tell if this will hold true for Air Baltic, and if its approach of operating an all Airbus A220 fleet will be successful in the long run.
Do you think that it is a good idea for Air Baltic to replace its Boeing 737s with Airbus A220s?