This year, airBaltic revealed that its Boeing 737 aircraft would not be returning to passenger service following its total flight grounding. Today the airline said goodbye to its last Boeing 737 aircraft as it delivered the plane to Magnetic MRO.
Globally, many airlines have been retiring their older aircraft in favor of new ones. For many, this meant aircraft that were already due to be retired, such as Air France’s A380s and British Airways’ 747. For airBaltic, the 737 was nearing the end of its useful life.
Bye-bye Boeing 737
airBaltic first began flying the Boeing 737 back in 2003, and in the 17 years since, the airline has operated 20 different airframes from the type’s classic family. Across over 280,000 flights, the type has carried more than 22 million of the airline’s passengers. Simple Flying was on one of these in summer 2019. You can read about how we found that flight here. However, like all good things, today it was time to close the book on the 17 years of 737 operations.
Stay informed: Sign up for our daily aviation news digest.
Having last flown for airBaltic on March 16th, YL-BBX has spent the last nine months on the ground in Riga. Today it operated the last Boeing 737 flight with an airBaltic call sign (BT9881) as the airline flew it to its new owners in Ostrava (OSR), Czechia. The flight lasted one hour and 23 minutes, departing Riga (RIX) at 09:56 and arriving at 10:19.
airBaltic wasn’t the only airline saying goodbye to a type today. Earlier wet lease operator Hi Fly operated its final Airbus A380 flight, returning 9H-MIP to Toulouse.
Commenting on the Boeing 737’s departure, airBaltic’s CEO Martin Gauss said,
“Since May 2020, airBaltic operates all of its flights with a single aircraft type – Airbus A220-300, thus minimizing the complexity and benefiting from the additional efficiency provided by the aircraft. Yet Boeing 737 aircraft were a notable part of the airBaltic fleet for 17 years. They served as our breakthrough, helping to establish ourselves as a strong regional carrier.”
The future is Airbus A220
airBaltic was the launch customer for the Airbus A220-300, back when it was still the Bombardier C-Series CS300. Impressed with the aircraft’s performance, airBaltic’s CEO has gradually transitioned his airline to become an all A220 operator as deliveries allow. It was only when the airline’s schedule was massively reduced earlier this year that it finally became possible to make the switch.
airBaltic’s CEO used to be a Boeing 737 pilot and kept his license current by operating occasional flights alongside training captains. This year, Simple Flying exclusively revealed that he had completed his type rating on the Airbus A220, despite delays caused by the current situation.
Will you miss airBaltic’s Boeing 737s? Let us know what you think and why in the comments!