DALLAS – After halting operations in Ukraine and Russia due to the ongoing conflict, airBaltic (BT) will wet-lease a portion of its A220s.
The Latvian airline has already secured contracts for nine Airbus A220s to be leased on an ACMI basis to SAS Scandinavian Airlines (SK) and Eurowings (EW), according to its full-year financial report for 2021.
AirBaltic reported that it was also negotiating wet-lease contracts for two other aircraft that were destined for Ukrainian and Russian airlines.
Comments from AirBaltic Officials
In reaction to flight suspensions in Russia and Ukraine, BT’s Chief Operating Officer & Accountable Manager, Pauls Calitis said during the live stream presentation of the airline’s full-year results that “this is our way to improve the airline’s profitability.”
AirBaltic noted in the report that “Assuming both Russian and Ukrainian markets stay closed for the rest of 2022, the negative impact on the passenger revenue is estimated to be EUR 25 million.”
On his part, Vitolds Jakovlev, BT’s chief financial officer said, “In our business plan, we have a slower COVID recovery scenario, which means the passenger traffic rebounding in the Baltic states is on a slower pace than we would like.” The carrier could wet-lease some of its aircraft to other carriers for two, three, or even four years, according to Jakovlevs.
The airline reported a financial loss of €136m (US$146m) in 2021, up from €246m (US$266m) the previous year. In 2021, the company handled 1.63 million passengers, up 21% from the previous year. Furthermore, BT’s income increased by 41% to €204m (US$221m) in comparison to 2020.
With 32 Airbus A220s in its fleet, the airline became the world’s largest A220 operator in 2021. Despite the market’s volatility, the airline plans to keep adding new A220s to its fleet and plans to have 50 of the type in service by 2024.
In the summer of 2022, the airline anticipates solid bookings driven by leisure travel. AirBaltic expects to transport 3.3 million passengers and earn €400m (US$434m) in revenue.
Featured image: Air Baltic YL-CSA Airbus A220-300. Photo: Tony Bordelais/Airways