airBaltic will suspend all flights from March 17th until the middle of April, in a move to combat changing conditions resulting from the coronavirus. This will include international flights with passengers being contacted directly by the airline to rearrange or refund travel.
What are the details?
The Government of the Republic of Latvia has decided to suspend all international air travel from March 17th in a move to limit the spread of the coronavirus. As airBaltic is a flag carrier of Latvia and many of its flights run through Riga, the airline is effectively shut down internationally.
All airBaltic connections will be temporarily suspended starting from March 17 until April 14, 2020, inclusive, including operations of airBaltic from Estonia and Lithuania.
airBaltic has a fleet of 22 Airbus A220-300s (they were the European launch customer of the type). Additionally, they have four Boeing 737-300 and 12 Bombardier Q400 that they are in the process of replacing with Airbus A220s.
With these new travel restrictions in place from the government (which owns 80% of the airline), none of these jets will be flying.
Speaking in the press release, Martin Gauss, CEO of airBaltic said: “The safety and health of our passengers, our employees, and the society is above all!”
What happens if you are booked with airBaltic?
Naturally, plenty of passengers will be affected by the news that the airline is suspending routes until mid-April.
“airBaltic is working intensively to assist all passengers affected. Due to the number of rebookings needed, we ask for understanding from our customers that we are doing our utmost to deal with this extraordinary situation,”
The airline is emailing each passenger and providing instructions on how they can manage their travel bookings. The airline is advising only those who have a booking for the next few days to call the airline, as the call center braces for a surge of phone calls from passengers.
For a complete list of which flights are affected, or to know more, we recommend that passengers look at the list on their website.
What about team members?
airBaltic had previously taken action to reduce their staff numbers during this period of low demand. However, this recent news will mean further staff are furloughed and sent on unpaid leave.
“Following the already announced staff reductions, airBaltic will in the upcoming days be in continued discussions with our staff and unions on details, how the new situation will affect the employment and future of our employees.”
Overall this is a good move by the government to help prevent the spread of this new deadly disease, however, we can’t help but feel concern for the thousands of passengers that have so far been unaffected and now have to adapt to the ever-changing situation.
What do you think of this news? Are you affected by these restrictions? Let us know in the comments.