Latvian national flag carrier airBaltic said in a statement released today that it had just taken delivery of its latest Airbus A220-300 and that it is the first of seven planned deliveries this year. The aircraft registration number YL-AAZ departed Montréal-Mirabel International Airport (YMX) at 15:29 EDT for the just under eight-hour flight landing at Riga International Airport (RIX) at 06:26 EEST.
The plane is a part of a 50 aircraft order airBaltic placed with Airbus along with a further option for 30 of the same aircraft. airBaltic has its main hub at Riga International Airport (RIX), with secondary hubs at Tallinn Airport (TLL) in Estonia and at Vilnius Airport (VNO) in Lithuania. From these Baltic states, airBaltic operates flights mostly to metropolitan and leisure destinations within Europe.
32 A220s by the end of 2021
When speaking in a statement about the arrival of the new Airbus A220-300 and how airBaltic is planning for a summer 2021 COVID-19 recovery Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic Martin Gauss said:
“This year, airBaltic offers 96 routes from the Baltics, thus strengthening our positions as the leading airline in the region. We see that with the increasing vaccination levels in Europe, the demand for leisure travel is recovering. Thus, to support our future return to profit and growth, by the end of 2021, we are planning to have 32 Airbus A220-300 aircraft on our fleet.”
— airBaltic (@airBaltic) May 2, 2021
In the spring of 2020, airBaltic became an all-Airbus A220-300 airline retiring its Boeing 737s and De Havilland Canada DHC-8-400s in favor of the Canadian-built A220-300. By doing this, airBaltic has simplified its fleet, knowing that uniformity will ultimately save the airline millions of dollars.
The A220 has performed better than expected
airBalitic has configured its A220-300s in a single 2+3 145 seat layout, although the first two rows are 0+1 and 2+2 due to their proximity to the galley and lavatory. airBaltic says that the aircraft has performed way above the companies initial expectations by delivering better overall fuel efficiency.
The aircraft has also proved to be a big hit with passengers thanks to its wide seats (18.5 inches) larger windows, bigger overhead bins, and new, improved toilets. You also do not have to believe what airBaltic says about the A220-300 as Simple Flying Content Manager Tom Boon was invited to Riga in July 2019 to look at the plane for himself. You can read all about Tom’s first impressions and his review of his A220-300 Riga to London flight by clicking on the link.
Competition from Ryanair
In other news affecting airBaltic, Irish low-cost carrier Ryanair announced it would be opening a new base in the Latvian capital and planned to operate two aircraft from RIX towards the end of October. Of the new routes from Riga, nine will see the Dublin-headquartered airline going head-to-head with airBaltic, which could prove to be good news for the consumer.
When speaking about this in a Riga Airport statement, Ryanair’s Commercial Director, Jason McGuinness, said:
“We are delighted to announce the opening of a new base in Riga, which will support economic recovery as well as international connectivity, delivering 16 new routes (30 in total) from the end of October.”
Have you flown on an airBaltic A220-300 yet? If so, please tell us what you thought on the plane in the comments.