Riga based carrier airBaltic now operates the world’s youngest fleet of aircraft. With the retirement of its Q400 and Boeing 737 aircraft in April, its oldest aircraft is just 3.6 years old. The airline is also now the first carrier to only operate the Airbus A220.
The current crisis has caused many airlines to reevaluate their current and future fleet plans. Many aircraft from different airlines have been stored, or worse, retired early. Meanwhile, new aircraft deliveries have been pushed back significantly. Indeed, in May, Airbus recorded no aircraft orders. However, airBaltic’s recent changes have pushed its fleet plan forward by three years.
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1.9 years old
airBaltic was the first airline to completely ground its fleet as a result of the current crisis. It took this action on the 17th of March. The airline had some aging Boeing 737 and Q400 aircraft left it its fleet. These were already on the way out, as airBaltic eyed an all-Airbus A220 stable. However, as we reported earlier, their retirement was sped up. As a result, the airline’s CEO, Martin Gauss, told Simple Flying,
“The simplified all-Airbus fleet was brought forward by three years… airBaltic is now having an average age in the fleet which we operate at 1.9 years.”
Gauss added that he was ‘very proud’ that his airline is operating the youngest fleet in the world. However, a portion of it is still grounded.
2/3rds of the fleet operational
At the height of the current crisis, the majority of airBaltic’s fleet was grounded. The airline operated a handful of select cargo flights from China with PPE loaded in the cabin. Speaking to Simple Flying, Gauss mentioned that 14 of the airline’s 22 current aircraft have now returned to the skies operating nine routes for the time being.
The fleet won’t be growing quite as quickly as was initially planned. Mr. Gauss told Simple Flying that some deliveries would be delayed this year and next. He said,
“We take delivery of another three this year bringing us to 25 by the end of this year… Because of the adjusted business plan we needed to delay this year’s deliveries.”
The world’s youngest fleet
Having the world’s youngest fleet is an achievement for airlines. It comes at great expense as it means that a significant portion of the fleet is comprised of brand new aircraft. However, it also has its advantages. These more modern aircraft are typically more fuel-efficient than their predecessors.
Indeed, Gauss touched on the upside of the fleet’s sustainability, commenting,
“[The Airbus A220] comes with a lot of upsides. Because if you look at sustainability coming later, which is a key element of our future, this is factored into this revised product.”
This achievement is not easy to hold onto, as it means constant new aircraft deliveries. Indeed, under a year ago, Simple Flying wrote that Norwegian Air, which relaunched its first international flight earlier, had the youngest fleet at 2.8 years old.
Have you flown on one of airBaltic’s new Airbus A220 aircraft? How did you find it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments!