DALLAS – AirBaltic (BT), the Latvian national airline company, has announced the leasing agreement of four narrow-body aircraft for the summer season of 2023.
The specific aircraft will be four Airbus A320s (9H-AMI, 9H-AMK, 9H-MLY, and 9H-MLX) wet-leased from Avion Express (X9). Avion is the largest airline in Lithuania and the leading single-aisle ACMI operator worldwide. According to BT, this decision was taken to meet the increasing passenger demand and protect its operation from any future supply chain issues.
In total, two units will be based in Riga (RIX), AirBaltic’s largest hub, while the other two A320s will operate out of Vilnius (VNO) and Tallinn (TLL) airports. This leasing is scheduled to last from March 26 to October 28, 2023, fully including the summer season in the northern hemisphere.
Supply Chain Issues
Martin Gauss, CEO of AirBaltic, stated, “Passenger demand for air travel is increasing. At the same time, the industry as a whole continues to face technical parts supply chain issues, which means we need additional capacity to carry all passengers, avoiding flight cancellations. Therefore, this summer airBaltic will be cooperating with Avion Express, which aircraft offer even more seats, thus allowing us to carry a greater amount of passengers.”
At the time of writing, AirBaltic operates a fleet of exclusively 39 Airbus A220-300 aircraft after officially retiring the last DHC-8 Q400 unit in March 2020.
However, a total of 11 A220s currently are wet-leased to Swiss International Air Lines (LX), which now represents a 28% fleet shortage for BT to face the upcoming high summer season.
Prosperity In The Baltic
AirBaltic is the flag carrier of the three Baltic states, Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia, even though its main hub is located in Riga (RIX), centrally located between the three countries. AirBaltic is now among the most prosperous airlines in Europe.
This is backed up by the recent publication of the full-year 2022 results by the airline, which showed a €32m (US$34m) operating profit, with revenue that exceeded €500m (US$531m) million, a growth of 145% compared with 2021.
Gauss said, “Looking ahead to 2023, we are filled with strength, ideas, and determination and we continue the successful course we have taken which will help airBaltic reach its IPO in 2024. Our core objectives remain unchanged – to ensure the best connectivity between the Baltics – one of the key European business centers of the future – and the world, as well as enhance the passenger experience and deliver a fundamental contribution to the economy.”
Finally, AirBaltic also announced that it had carried 67% more passengers in January 2023 than in 2022. Check out our latest AirBaltic story to know how.
Featured image: A photoshoot with one of the four A320 AirBaltic will operate this summer. Photo: AirBaltic