airBaltic Takes Two Airbus A220s In One Day

Latvian flag carrier airBaltic is one of the world’s largest operators of the Airbus A220. With 23 active examples of this next-generation narrowbody aircraft in its fleet, only Delta and Swiss have more. This number is about to increase by two, with the airline’s latest pair having flown from Montréal to Riga yesterday.

airbaltic, uk quarantine, London flights
airBaltic’s fleet currently consists entirely of Airbus A220-300 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

Parallel delivery flights

As observed on Twitter yesterday, two brand-new Airbus A220-300 aircraft departed Montréal 10 minutes apart. Having left the city’s second-largest airport, known as Mirabel (YMX), they were bound for the Latvian capital of Riga. They will be based here with the country’s flag carrier, airBaltic.

The registrations of the aircraft in question were YL-AAX and YL-AAY, and they operated flights BT9806 and BT9810 respectively. According to, the former took to the skies on December 12th at 09:12 local time. It landed in Riga at 23:49 local time after seven hours and 37 minutes in the air.

BT9806 Flightpath 12Dec2020
The flightpath of BT9806, operated by YL-AAX, on December 12th. Image:

One might consider this flight time somewhat ironic, given that the Airbus A220 replaced the Boeing 737 in airBaltic’s fleet! The latter took off just 10 minutes later, and, after seven hours and 38 minutes, touched down in Riga at midnight. Both flights had a great circle distance of 6,342 km (3,424 NM).

BT9810 Flightpath 12Dec2020
BT9810, operated by YL-AAY, flew an almost identical route to its sister aircraft 10 minutes before it. Image:

Onboard airBaltic’s Airbus A220-300

airBaltic’s website lists several benefits to utilizing the 145-seat Airbus A220-300 from a passenger perspective. These include:

  • Wider seats (thanks to its 2-3 configuration).
  • Larger windows.
  • More hand luggage space.
  • Improved lavatories.

This makes flying on this aircraft a rather attractive prospect for the airline’s customers. Indeed, SeatGuru lists its standard seat pitch and width as 32 and 18.5 inches respectively. This gives it a significant advantage over many of its competitors.

Ryanair, for example, competes with airBaltic on routes such as Riga-Manchester. However, SeatGuru lists the standard seat pitch and width on its Boeing 737-800 aircraft as 30 and 17 inches respectively. Using these metrics, we can see that the Latvian flag carrier clearly has the preferable onboard product.

airbaltic, uk quarantine, London flights
airBaltic offers high levels of passenger comfort onboard its Airbus A220-300 aircraft. Photo: Getty Images

There are also environmental advantages to utilizing the Airbus A220. airBaltic proudly lists these as including:

  • A four-times-smaller noise footprint.
  • Reduced CO2 and NOX emissions by respective factors of 20% and 50%.
  • Being the first aircraft to have a transparent declaration of the life-cycle environmental impact.

The result of these favorable factors is that airBaltic can proudly state that it operates the “greenest commercial aircraft in the world.”

An ideal post-pandemic aircraft

Including the two new deliveries, airBaltic has a total of 27 Airbus A220-300 aircraft on order. Alongside the airline’s 23 existing A220s, this will eventually bring its fleet size up to 50. For CEO Martin Gauss, there couldn’t be a better airliner for the job. Speaking earlier this week, Gauss (himself a certified A220 captain) stated his belief that the A220 will be perfect for the post-pandemic market.

passengers watch A220-300 airBaltic at Riga International
airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss is a certified captain on the Airbus A220. Photo: Getty Images

He claims that airBaltic’s operations have been completely changed, and for the better, by the aircraft. This boils down to the winning combination of its ideal capacity (for airBaltic’s routes) and high efficiency levels.

On the whole, it certainly appears that the airline has struck gold in terms of finding an aircraft that suits its operations so perfectly. With Gauss’s claim that the A220 is the perfect post-pandemic aircraft, it will be fascinating to see how much more widespread the type becomes in Europe’s skies.

Have you ever flown with airBaltic or on an Airbus A220? Let us know your thoughts and experiences in the comments!