airBaltic is set to become a sizable all Airbus A220 operator through its hub in Riga, Latvia, and from the airline’s focus cities in Tallinn, Estonia, and Vilnius, Lithuania. After Airbus announced range improvements for the A220, formerly Bombardier C-series, we spoke to airBaltic’s CEO, Martin Gauss, about the significance of these developments for the airline. While Mr. Gauss mentioned that the airline was looking at destinations such as Addis Ababa and Delhi, we here at Simple Flying have our own list of destinations airBaltic could consider flying to.
While the new and improved A220s have a range of approximately 3,375nm, Europe remains a leading, though competitive, market worth consideration.
Luxembourg – Although a relatively small market, the Grand Duchy has a significant financial services industry. The industry, among others, attracts numerous high-net-worth clients from across the world, including from the Baltic and CIS region. A quick flight search shows that the 772nm route between Riga and Luxembourg requires a connection, and itineraries can be as long as six hours or more. Moreover, Minsk, an airBaltic destination, seems completely unserved with a route to Luxembourg.
Bucharest – the Romanian capital is a city with a rich and varied history, and is at the center of the country’s fast developing economy. Romania is a leading tourist destination in Central Europe, but the country is seeking to attract visitors from far and wide to its ski and seaside resorts. The 750nm journey between Riga and Bucharest should take about two hours, but travelers currently take connecting itineraries lasting between four and seven. The same goes with Tallinn and Vilnius, airBaltic’s secondary hubs.
The A220’s can be used on much longer routes. Indeed, the airline already flies to Abu Dhabi with the aircraft.
Muscat – The Sultanate of Oman is a spectacular luxury tourism destination, globally recognized for warm hospitality. The country is uniquely endowed with a mixture of deserts, beaches, reefs and valleys called ‘wadis’. Although direct demand from airBaltic’s hubs may be limited, the addition of Muscat as a fifth-freedom destination from Abu Dhabi could be a wise choice. Especially, as the airline’s partner, Etihad, has no evening flights to the Omani capital. A direct flight from Riga would be possible, lasting just under six hours and covering 2,500nm.
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Istanbul – airBatic does not serve Istanbul nor does it have an interline / code-share agreement with Turkish Airlines, according to their website. Istanbul, as a destination, needs little introduction. The centuries-old city of 15 million is home to beautiful works of architecture, and has become a leading destination for foodies and business people alike. The 960nm, three-hour, flight could be served by the A220 with complete ease.
Cairo – The Egyptian capital lies only 1,640nm from Riga yet, anyone looking to travel between the cities must travel upwards of eight hours. Egypt, which has been experiencing some economic uncertainties, remains an attractive tourist destination for those looking to get some sun during the European winter months.
Last but not least, we turn to Asia, the furthest point the A220 can travel from Riga. Delhi aside, we think that Islamabad, the capital city of Pakistan, could make a great airBaltic destination. At 2,800nm apart, a direct flight between the city-pairs would take just under six hours. More importantly however, passengers from Riga, Oslo, Reykjavik, Warsaw, and Vilnius, are currently undeserved, with itineraries lasting between 11-25 hours.
What do you think of our route proposals? Should airBaltic expand to Asia, Africa and the Middle East or, should the airline concentrate on its core markets? Would you fly six hours in the game-changing A220? Let us know in the comments.