airBaltic has taken delivery of its 23rd A220-300, inching closer towards completing its 50 aircraft order. Earlier this year, the airline decided to switch to an all-A220 fleet, parking its 737s and Dash-8s. airBaltic plans to take delivery of two more of the type this year as a part of its new delivery schedule.
airBaltic’s 23rd A220 made its way to Riga International Airport yesterday from the Airbus Mirabel production facility in Montreal. Registered YL-AAW, the plane carries airBaltic’s standard livery and is the first plane airBaltic has taken delivery of this year.
We are happy to announce that we have accepted our 23rd @Airbus A220-300 jet, registered as YL-AAW. The green-tailed beauty flew directly from factory in Montreal and touched down in @riga_airport earlier this morning. pic.twitter.com/xfeuxEkqWo
— airBaltic (@airBaltic) September 20, 2020
The plane is the first of three of that will be delivered to airBaltic this year. The airline has been quite optimistic about its A220 fleet, bringing forward the full delivery schedule from 2025 to 2023. However, this year’s crisis has made the carrier slightly delay this plan and it will now complete deliveries in 2024.
The new plane only pushes down the age of airBaltic’s fleet, which was already one of the youngest in the world at 1.9 years. The airline has made great use of its fleet, keeping most of it active even during the lower demand summer season this year.
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Betting on the A220
As we mentioned, airBaltic is now an all-A220 airline, and also the world’s only, a decision made when it restarted operations in May. The airline has shelved its fleet of 737s and Dash-8s in favor of the newer and more efficient Airbus jet.
This current crisis made a significant impact on airBaltic, who suspended passenger operations between March and May, focusing on cargo instead. The airline broke its own record for the longest A220-300 flight this year, with its aid flight to China in March, flying nearly 7 hours.
Despite the airline’s success with the A220, it has still struggled through the crisis. In its first full month of service after the crisis, in July, the carrier saw a load factor of 38%. While this is low, it does signal a growing recovery for the airline. This slowing growth played a factor in its plans to push back its aircraft delivery schedule.
While this year has been challenging for airlines around the world, airBaltic is planning for a strong recovery. The airline has already revealed a massive 2021 summer schedule, with over 80 routes and new destinations. However, this year has shown us that plans one year away are subject to quite a lot of change, so it wouldn’t be surprising for this to shrink if demand doesn’t return.
For now, the carrier is slowly expanding its destinations to match demand. It recently also signed a codeshare agreement with Icelandair to offer passengers of both airline access to more destinations. Regardless of this year’s impact, we already know that airBaltic has made a bold choice in sticking to the A220 for the future, a plane that has seen extremely high utilization even though the pandemic.
Have you flown with airBaltic on the A220? What was your experience? Let us know in the comments below!