Latvian carrier airBaltic has surpassed the network that it was operating before the pandemic. The achievement is a crucial indicator of the all-Airbus A220 airline’s recovery after it became the first airline to suspend all flights as a result of the pandemic early last year.
It has now been a year and a half since the COVID-19 pandemic took a firm grip on Europe. For many airlines on the continent, these have been the worst 18 months of their existence, to varying degrees depending on individual country restrictions. It does seem that we are past the worst now, though.
airBaltic’s network is booming
Looking at the figures from earlier this year, you wouldn’t hold out any hope for quick recovery at airBaltic. In February, the airline posted its lowest passenger numbers since returning from a total grounding. Now, things are getting better.
According to airBaltic, the all-Airbus A220 airline has now surpassed the route network that it was offering before the pandemic, albeit with lower frequencies on some of these routes than before COVID-19 took hold.
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The Latvian airline is now offering roughly 90 routes from the Baltics to destinations predominately around Europe. With these routes, the airline serves destinations across 30 different countries ranging from the United Arab Emirates all the way to the United Kingdom and Southern Spain. In addition, the airline also has another 24 codeshare options with partners such as Lufthansa.
Commenting, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss said,
“To maintain essential connectivity and address the leisure demand, this summer we launched a selection of new sunny destinations. At the same time, we continue to connect Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius with major European business centers and transit hubs.”
New planes to serve all of these destinations
To operate flights across its extensive network, airBaltic needs a sizeable fleet of jets. When the airline’s fleet returned from its 2020 grounding, its Boeing 737s and Q400s didn’t come back, leaving the fleet slightly smaller than before the pandemic. Now that demand is recovering, the airline is once again building its fleet with several A220 deliveries in the past months.
This week the airline took delivery of its 31st jet, YL-ABE. With 31 of the plane, airBaltic is now the type’s largest operator in Europe and second-largest in the world. airBaltic has a total of 50 firm Airbus A220 orders, though, with options for another 30 jets, it could eventually take as many as 80 A220-300s.
Since the airline took delivery of its first Airbus A220 in late 2016 (then called the Bombardier C-Series), the airline has carried some 6,505,932 passengers, across 78,246 equating to over 175,312 hours.
What do you make of airBaltic’s impressive network growth? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!