Epic Airbus A220 Flight: airBaltic Inaugurates New Dubai Route

airBaltic has started Riga to Dubai, the world’s second-longest A220 route this month after the carrier’s service to Tenerife. With a block time to Latvia of nearly seven hours, the long route to Dubai replaces Abu Dhabi, served between 2013 and 2020.

airBaltic A220
airBaltic’s round-trip to Dubai used this specific aircraft, YL-CSG. Photo: Anna Zvereva via Flickr.

Latvia’s airBaltic took off from Riga to Dubai on September 27th, again connecting the two airports after an absence of nine years. Despite its late-night departure, it was welcomed in style, with the carrier’s CEO, Martin Gauss, cutting the ribbon to celebrate the first flight.

Operating to the United Arab Emirates on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays, and Sundays, the 2,332 nautical mile route currently has the following schedule (all times are local). It has a block time to Dubai of six hours and 25 minutes and six hours and 45 minutes on the way back.

  • BT791: Riga to Dubai, 23:10-06:35+1 (the next day)
  • BT792: Dubai to Riga, 08:05-13:50
airBaltic to Dubai
Cutting the ribbon with Martin Gauss is Laila Odiņa, Chairperson of the Board of Riga Airport (second left), and H.E. Mrs Hanan Al Aleeli, Ambassador of the UAE to the Republic of Latvia (middle). Image: via airBaltic.

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Some 20,000 people flew between Riga and Dubai in 2019, booking data shows, making the United Arab Emirates destination one of the largest unserved markets from Latvia. airBaltic will also capture passengers connecting over Riga to/from dozens of destinations across Northern Europe. Speaking at the launch, Mr. Gauss said:

“We are proud to offer our passengers such a unique destination as Dubai, which now connects the Baltic region with the United Arab Emirates with one of the longest flights on our route map. Dubai has been one of the most demanded destinations among our passengers for some time now, and it will be hosting the Expo 2020, which attracts a lot of interest to this city.”

A return to Dubai in economy can be had for €339 all-in on airBaltic’s website. Photo: via airBaltic.

The route uses the A220

airBaltic’s fleet comprises just one aircraft type: the A220-300. It has 31 in all, ch-aviation.com shows, with an average age of 2.5 years. The launch customer of the variant, its fleet has the same configuration: 145 seats in an all-economy layout. The A220 is known for wider seats, larger windows, and more hand luggage space, and its use has grown strongly worldwide.

Dubai to Riga
At the time of writing, BT792 has just entered Latvian airspace and is cruising at 39,000 feet back to Riga. Image: Radarbox.com.

The aircraft operating the initial round-trip to the UAE was YL-CSG.  This specific aircraft first flew on July 23rd, 2017, and was delivered to airBaltic on August 10th, just over four years ago. Speaking to Simple Flying in March, Mr. Gauss said the A220 is the “perfect” aircraft for Dubai, highlighting the type’s versatility to operate both very short and longer sectors efficiently.

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