Riga International Airport (RIX)-based airBaltic has today welcomed home its 27th Airbus A220-300 aircraft. The aircraft arrived fast on the heels of the Airlines 26th Airbus A220, which came last month and is the latest of seven A220s expected to be delivered to airBaltic in 2021.
With the registration number YL-ABA, the aircraft is just one of 50 A220-300 Aircraft ordered from the Airbus Mirabel Plant in Quebec, Canada. However, in a statement, the all-Airbus A220-300 airline was keen to point out that besides the 50 it has on order with the European planemaker, it also has an option for an additional 30 planes.
airBaltic flying high before COVID-19
Before the COVID-19 pandemic decimated global aviation, airBaltic was seen as one of the rising stars of the airline industry. airBaltic had a game plan, and it was sticking to it by building a thriving home hub at Riga International Airport and additional satellite hubs at Tallinn Airport (TLL) and Vilnius International Airport (VNO) in the other two Baltic States.
airBaltic was one of the first airlines to select the former Bombardier CSeries aircraft for its fleet. airBaltic knew that by only flying one type of aircraft, it would be able to keep training and maintenance costs down- a strategy popular among low-cost carriers. airBaltic also decided to fly to Mediterranean summer holiday destinations while at the same time expanding its global footprint with some intelligent codesharing deals.
The restart will come after vaccinations
In the spring of 2020, the Latvian government decided to halt all international flying for 62 days, effectively grounding all of the airBaltic Airbus A220-200s. When speaking on the aviation website Flight24s AVTalk podcast earlier this year about COVID-19 and the future, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said:
“Exactly a year ago, we came to the week where we had to stop flying completely, and one year later, we’re at the lowest possible level, ensuring basic connectivity but flying very little. And we’re now waiting for the real restart, which will come when sufficient vaccine levels have been reached in Europe.” adding, “After one year we’re here, we’ve made it, and we’re in a good strong position.”
When speaking about the decision to go with an all-Airbus A220-300 fleet Gauss thinks it is one of the smarter things they did, saying:
“That strategy change has changed our business going forward because it happened three years earlier than it would have. We have only seen improvements because everything we wanted to reach three years later we have already reached when we started again last year in May.”
Gauss continued by saying that the aircraft works perfectly for its operations, making things easier. “Everybody is trained for that aircraft type. It has so many benefits for our customers and for our operations. If we could, we would have taken this step earlier even, knowing what we know now.”
What is important for airBaltic now is to take advantage of people going on vacation this summer and hopefully get its growth plan back on track. Gauss believes that the Airbus A220-300 is the ideal aircraft for airBaltic and how it wants to develop as an airline.
Simple Flying’s content manager Tom Boon flew up to Riga to check out airBaltics A220-300, and you can read about what he thought of the plane by clicking on the link. So far, I don’t think we have come across anything negative being said about the A220-300.
Have you been able to fly on one of these jets yet? If so, please tell us what you think of the plane in the comments.