Exclusive: AirBaltic CEO Gives Private Tour Of His Airbus A220

Simple Flying was treated to a private tour of the new airBaltic A220-300 by none other than the CEO of airBaltic himself, Martin Gauss.

airBaltic CEO gives us a tour of his new A220. Photo: Simple Flying

You can watch our private tour here:

Who is airBaltic?

airBaltic is the number one carrier in the Baltic region, based out of the hub of Riga. They have 39 mixed aircraft, 19 of which are brand new Airbus A220-300s.

The aircraft is configured to have 145 seats. It has two classes; a business class at the front of the plane (with the same seats at economy) and economy with a moveable curtain. The aircraft comes in a narrow body with a wide aisle and seats in a 3-2 configuration.

It has the biggest windows of any similar sized aircraft, and they are even 50% bigger than the other Airbus windows (such as the A321). The A220 is the quietest aircraft in the narrowbody category.

airBaltic Airbus A220
The airBaltic Airbus A220 was a popular aircraft at the Paris Air Show. Photo: Markus Eigenheer via Flickr

airBaltic has already transported around 3 million passengers on the A220-300, which is around 30,000 flights.

“We have taken a decision to take the Airbus A220-300 as the only aircraft we will be operating in the future, and have placed an order for 50 firm and 30 options.” – Martin Gauss at the Paris Air Show to Simple Flying.

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The cockpit of the A220-300. Photo: Simple Flying

Martin Gauss took the time to answer some specific questions for Simple Flying.

Why did airBaltic choose the A220-300?

“The aircraft comes with a lot of features, like we have the mood light system where you see it keeps changing. You can of course put a permanent colour, which we do for the different phases of flight. We have a 30-inch pitch on our seats, if you sit in the seat later, you will see there’s another feature that if the passenger in front of you reclines their seat nothing changes to your seat, because just the upper part reclines.”

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The seats onboard the A220-300. Photo: Simple Flying

“The aircraft has an incredible range, already today our aircraft can fly seven hours with a full load. Airbus announced that there’s an extension now for one hour. So the aircraft can go up to eight hours. Compared to our classic boys it burns 22% less fuel. It has 20% less CO2 emissions. So overall it’s a very, very different aircraft then was there before in the narrow body market, and we are very happy in airBaltic.”

Video of the day:

“And if you look at one feature which we asked for this aircraft when it was certified, you will not find any text if you look at the seat backs or up here. The reason for that is we use pictograms because they are in all language the same and it keeps the aircraft clean and nice. And now you will see this on the camera. If you look at the daylight, there’s no artificial light now, how bright the cabin is. That is a completely different feeling for the passengers traveling on that aircraft.”

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The overhead dashboard for the A220-300. Photo: Simple Flying

What do you think of the increased range of the A220-300?

“Very interesting because we had a presentation from Airbus on what is possible out of Riga, and we see cities now like Addis Ababa [which could have] daily [flights]. We haven’t looked at that before because it was out of reach. Now it’s within reach, and we’ll have a look at each of these cities, whether one of them make sense for us to serve. And there will be more cities on that new circle. So very interesting to have a look at it.”

Airbus A220 Family Range Increase
The aircraft’s increased range will make new routes possible. Photo: Airbus

Simple Flying has written a more in-depth analysis of what this means for the airline, which you can read here.

What type of passengers do you serve on airBaltic?

“We serve 80 different routes. We serve all over Europe and beyond. So 50% of the passengers in Riga are transferring, 50% are point to point.”

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The seatbacks of the airBaltic A220-300 seats. Photo: Simple Flying

So we have all the nations which we serve going through Riga and flying on the aircraft. So it’s a very, very international mixture. We’re number one in the Baltics, but of course, we are transporting people to and from the Baltics. “

Would airBaltic ever upgrade to a possible A220-500 stretch?

There was actually a press briefing today where the Airbus management was asked about it and they said that is something which could be considered, but it’s not there yet. We are happy with the aircraft as is as of today, and when something new is developing we’re going to look at it. But we are happy with our aircraft as we have today.”

airBaltic is expected to convert the rest of their fleet into a220s by the end of 2022.

What do you think? Do you want to fly airBaltic? Let us know in the comments. 

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Anton Schiere

Nicholas, nice article ! airBaltic is going study on expanding their business model. By sticking to one aircraft family they follow a proven concept saving lots of costs in instruction, labour, spare parts and time. 30 Inch is 5 centimeter more than standard pitch in e-class. So a positive difference making proposition, especially on longer flights ! With 145 seats the A220-300 is a versitaile workhorse for an airline operating in the lower demand part of the market. So clever, especially in conjunction with 6.000 km of range and improved fuel efficiency. Enabling flights from Riga to the Cape Verdian… Read more »

Hein Vandenbergh

Medium/long haul – 145 PAX/6000 kms @ 30′ – may work in Asia, but not in Europe, US, or Australia, we are on ave too tall. Which is the only reason I pay the xtra for J class even on domestic Australia flights: I like to be able to walk off the aitrcaft on arrival rather than ‘strumple’. Can’t imagine what 6000 km would be like. I suggest; 20 % J class – the former 1st class – and 80% Y class at the former Y class seat pitch. Priced accordingly. Leave knee-destroying Y class seat pitch to the LCCs… Read more »

Joanna Bailey

The A220 is surprisingly spacious, lots of legroom (32″) and width of 18.5″. Air Baltic use a seat construction which means when the person in front reclines, you don’t lose any legroom. It was super comfortable when we sat on it; I’d be more than happy to travel several hours on it.

Matt

As stated in the article, Air Baltic use a 30″ seat pitch. That is absolutely terrible.

Paul proctor

How wide the seats? Any cargo capacity at full pax? Also the big question: Is it making money?