The 30th anniversary of Baltic independence was marked last week by Latvian carrier, airBaltic, in a ceremony at Riga’s Airport. On Wednesday, August 21st, airBaltic invited government officials and other guests from Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania to mark Baltic independence. As reported in World Airline News, the carrier had brought in three of its A220 aircraft in the national colours of each country.
At the event, Egils Levits, President of the Republic of Latvia said;
“For Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, August is the month of freedom and our special shared destiny of the Baltics. Thirty years ago, in Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania, and everywhere in the world, almost every Balt joined the Baltic Way in their hearts and minds at that time by striving for the freedom of their relatives and themselves and the independence of all three Baltic States.”
On the day
In what was a very patriotic event, airBaltic had, as a backdrop, three of its A220-300 jets, each in the livery of each of the three Baltic countries. YL-CSL was painted in a special Latvian livery, YL-CSJ in Estonian flag livery and YL-CSK carried the Lithuanian flag livery.
In a statement provided to Simple Flying, airBaltic President Martin Gauss said;
“We are proud to host this event in honour of the Baltic Way – a unique, peaceful demonstration that showed the world how determined and unified the Baltic people were in regaining their freedom. Together with amazing partners, we have created a special series of liveries and a song to honour the anniversary of this historic event and demonstrate Baltic solidarity.”
airBaltic growing and expanding
While airBaltic is a Latvian airline based at Riga, the airline has strong links with its neighbours, Estonia and Lithuania, with bases in Tallinn and Vilnius.
Like many European carriers, it has suffered heavy financial losses in the last decade and embarked on a series of revenue-raising and cost-cutting strategies. In tandem with a reorganisation of the ownership structure, the airline weathered the storm and has entered in a phase of fleet renewal and route expansion.
airBaltic’s net profits are slight, but a slight profit is far better than a loss. The airline currently has 39 aircraft, and is retiring its fleet of Boeing 737s, replacing them with A220-300 aircraft. They currently have 19 in the fleet and a further 31 ordered. There is also a fleet of 12 Dash-8 Q400s which are due for retirement by 2022. By then, airBaltic will only fly A220-300s.
While there are obvious efficiencies and simplicities in running a single fleet airline, it also narrows the range of suitable routes available. The airline’s focus is on European routes with the odd seasonal excursion further afield. The A220 is proving particularly popular with many airlines for Intra European routes.
Martin Gauss told Simple Flying that he didn’t anticipate any aircraft coming close to meeting airBaltic’s needs over the next decade in the way that the A220 does. While the airline doesn’t currently do long haul flights, the capabilities of the A220 mean airBaltic can look further afield as more of them are delivered.
airBaltic was born out of Baltic independence. The airline has grown and prospered in tandem with its home country and its Baltic neighbours. In 20 years time, when the Baltic states celebrate half a century of independence, it will be interesting to see how airBaltic has continued to grow and prosper.