This week airBaltic took delivery of its 29th Airbus A220-300. As the Latvian airline expands its all A220 fleet, the airline is also seeing its passenger numbers rise as it recovers from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Year on year, the airline increased its passengers by 38%, and its number of flights by 27%
While the A220 plays a role in the fleet of most operators, one airline has gone one step further with the type. airBaltic not only just flies the aircraft, but the airline also aims to become a one-stop shop for everything from training to maintenance of the type.
Another Airbus A220-300
On Saturday, airBaltic took delivery of its latest Airbus A220. The aircraft, registered as YL-ABC, is the latest in a series of deliveries to the launch customer of the type once known as the Bombardier CS300. The plane is the 29th of a firm order for 50 aircraft placed by the airline. Having taken its first flight on July 29th, the plane is less than a month old.
Moving to an all A220 fleet has allowed airBaltic to slash its average fleet age. According to data from ch-aviation.com, excluding the latest delivery, the average age of airBaltic’s fleet is currently 2.6. The airline’s CEO previously told Simple Flying that his airline had the world’s youngest fleet.
While Air Austal’s A220s took a somewhat convoluted route to Réunion, the same can’t be said for airBaltic’s A220s. During its delivery flight, YL-ABC flew non-stop from Montreal to Riga, which took eight hours and nine minutes, according to data from RadarBox.com. The airline didn’t waste time putting the aircraft to service. It arrived in Riga at 01:26 on Sunday and operated flight BT347 to Vilnius at 19:00 that same day.
Passenger numbers on the rise
With the addition of YL-ABC, it seems as though adding capacity really is as easy as ABC for the Latvian carrier. Across its 29 aircraft, the airline now has a total capacity of 4,205 passengers. While more related to a post-pandemic recovery rather than a capacity increase, the airline is also seeing its passenger numbers rise.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily and weekly aviation news digests.
According to airBaltic, the airline carried a total of 209,146 passengers in July 2021. This was an increase of 38% from the 151,529 carried in July 2020. Of course, this was partly down to the airline offering more flights. This year airBaltic operated 2,559 flights during the month, which was a 27% increase on the 2,019 flights operated in July 2020.
Unfortunately, it is not all good news. More flights and an increased passenger number mean more things can go wrong, especially with people traveling after a long gap. The airline’s 15-minute punctuality indicator dropped to 78%. This means that only 78% of flights operated by the airline were on time or had a delay of fewer than 15 minutes. This was 19% higher a year ago, with just 3% of the airline’s flights being delayed by 15 minutes or more.
Commenting on the July 2021 figures, the airline’s CEO Martin Gauss said,
“This summer has shown us some promise and an indication that the recovery of aviation industry has started. Notably, load factor on our flights has reached its highest level since the beginning of the crisis. Still, the number of passengers carried in July is 64% lower than in July 2019.”
What do you make of airBaltic’s shiny new plane and increased year-on-year passenger numbers. Let us know what you think and why in the comments below.