The world’s only all-Airbus A220 operator, airBaltic, has slightly put the brakes on the arrival of new aircraft. Of the 30 firm orders placed for the aircraft, two have arrived and a further three will be delivered by the end of the year. However, the full 30 were expected to be completed by 2023, but this will now be pushed back to early 2024.
A220 delivery schedule revision
Latvian airline airBaltic has revealed today that it has agreed to revise its delivery schedule for its outstanding A220 aircraft. The airline, which is the only one in the world to operate an all-Airbus A220 fleet, will push back the delivery of the remaining 28 aircraft from its original order of 50.
The airline already has 22 Airbus A220-300 aircraft and was expecting this to grow to the full fleet of 50 by 2023. However, in agreement with Airbus, these orders will now not be completed until early 2024.
In a statement regarding the revised delivery schedule, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss commented,
“The recent crisis enabled us to push forward our decision to introduce an Airbus A220-300 single type fleet. It allows us to minimize complexity and benefit from the additional efficiency provided by the aircraft. We will continue our growth and add more capacity provided by additional jets in the future as outlined by the Destination 2025 CLEAN business plan.”
The airline’s initial order of 20 A220s was completed in September last year. However, airBaltic had, in May the previous year, registered a firm order for a further 30, with 30 more on option.
By the end of 2019, it had received its first two from the new batch of orders. It will take a further three A220-300 by the end of 2020, but the rest will come a little more slowly than previously anticipated.
It’s not a major push back from airBaltic, and no portion of the order has been canceled. With predictions suggesting it will be 2023 or later before passenger traffic returns to 2019 levels, it’s a well thought out decision from the Latvian airline.
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Growing back capacity
Although airBaltic is keen to slightly slow the arrival of new planes, it has been doing a sterling job of rebuilding its capacity. The airline had been grounded due to COVID, but restarted operations from Riga to Tallinn and Vilnius on May 18th.
Since then, new destinations around Europe have gradually been added, with Helsinki, Munich and Berlin quickly followed by Paris Vienna, Hamburg and Amsterdam. Now, most of the airline’s network is restored, albeit with somewhat reduced capacity.
During July, airBaltic carried 251% more passengers than it had in June, notching up 151,529 passengers transported across more than 2,000 flights operated. 53 routes are currently in service, up 47% from June, and an impressive 97% of flights operated on time or with no more than a 15-minute delay.
With more destinations being added by the day and a slimline fleet of efficient A220s, airBaltic is in a strong position to assure its recovery from the COVID crisis.