airBaltic’s Boeing 737s Won’t Return When Operations Resume

airBaltic’s Boeing 737s won’t reappear in the fleet once the airline resumes operations. The Latvian airline has three Boeing 737s remaining in its fleet, however, it has for a long time been eying solely Airbus A220 operations.

airBaltic, Boeing 737, Retirement
airBaltic’s Boeing 737s won’t be flown in regular service again. Photo: Pixabay

airBaltic was the launch customer of the Airbus A220-300, with its oldest aircraft being just under three and a half years old. At the time of delivery, the aircraft was still known as the Bombardier C-Series. The aircraft is a huge part of the airline’s future growth plan, with over 20 having already joined the fleet.

Farewell Boeing 737

The Boeing 737 has historically played a large role in airBaltic’s history. The airline has operated 20 different aircraft from the family. However, the aircraft are now beginning to age, and their retirement had already been planned. In fact, this is something that Simple Flying discussed with the airline’s CEO, Martin Gauss, last summer.

In fact, we flew on an airBaltic Boeing 737 to get to this meeting. Despite being some 20 years old the journey was particularly enjoyable, although we would still pick the A220 given the option.

Martin Gauss had told Simple Flying that his airline would operate the last flight of an aircraft it owned last November. Meanwhile, he added that the lease on the airline’s remaining 737s would expire in the summer of 2020 when they would then be returned.

airBaltic Boeing 737 Retirement
The Airbus A220 (left) is replacing the Boeing 737 (right). Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

According to Latvian news agency LETA, Gauss said that the Boeing 737 will no longer be used for regular flights once the airline resumes normal operations. Currently, the airline is only using its Airbus A220s when needed. One saw an incredible non-stop journey from China with vital medical aid.

An airBaltic spokesperson told Simple Flying:

“As the Coronavirus crisis continues, significantly affecting demand for air travel, airBaltic is forced to further decrease its overall capacity between April 15 and October 31, 2020, cancelling approximately 50% of its flights. Currently the airline is in the process of adjusting its network and flight schedule according to temporarily reduced fleet in the beginning of restarting the scheduled operations once the crisis is over.

“The airline previously had intended to retire its Boeing 737 fleet after summer season of 2020. With the adjusted flight schedule for the summer season, the airline plans to operate up to 22 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, effectively retiring its Boeing 737 fleet. The airline is in negotiations with potential buyers of the four Boeing 737 aircraft it has on its fleet.”

It’s not just the Boeing 737 which will no longer operate scheduled flights, however. Currently, the airline is also still operating a handful of Dash-8 aircraft. These will also not return to regular operations either once operations resume.

An Airbus A220 airline

For a long time, airBaltic has been eyeing operating just one type of aircraft, the Airbus A220-300. The airline had originally placed an order for 20 Airbus A220s. However, the last of this original order was delivered in September. Airbus Canada is now delivering aircraft from an additional order for 30 more aircraft.

airBaltic, new routes, summer 2020
Going forwards the airline will only operate the A220. Photo: Tom Boon – Simple Flying

airBaltic has additional options for 30 more Airbus A220s. However, given the current aviation climate, one must wonder if they will still take advantage of these options. It is possible that the industry won’t recover overnight. Instead, it will likely take a while for things to get back to normal. As such, the A220s the airline already has will likely be enough initially.

Simple Flying has contacted airBaltic for comment regarding this story.

Have you flown on one of airBaltic’s Boeing 737s? Will you miss them? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!