RIGA — On August 23, 1989, approximately two million people joined their hands to form a human chain across the three Baltic countries — Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania.

The event, known as the Baltic Way, drew the attention of the world by demonstrating in peace the will of these countries for freedom from the Soviet Union and triggered a revolution that ended in their independence.

A street photo gallery in Riga features the Baltic Way in a series of pictures and documents that narrate the path to the freedom of the Baltic countries. (Photo: Author).

This week, 30 years later, Latvia’s flag carrier, airBaltic (BT), held an event at the airline’s headquarters at Riga International Airport (RIX). There, employees, guests, and media gathered to commemorate the Baltic Way in a celebration where music, traditions, and three special guests were the main protagonists. 

Martin Gauss, CEO of airBaltic, delivering a speech to the attendees to the event. The CEO highlighted the role of the airline in the development of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania. (Photo: airBaltic)

“We are proud to host this event in honor of the Baltic Way – a unique, peaceful demonstration that showed the world how determined and unified the Baltic people were in regaining their freedom.” Martin Gauss, CEO of airBaltic commented during the ceremony.

The airline showcased three special themed Airbus A220-300s. The facilities of Magnetic MRO at Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport (TLL) in Estonia carried out the design and paint job of the three jetliners, which sport alongside their fuselages, the waving flags of Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania, in a nod to airBaltic’s roots and commitment to the Baltic region.

The Latvian-themed Airbus A220-300. The aircraft, named Riga after the country’s capital city, also wears ‘Latvia 100’ titles on the tail to commemorate the 100th anniversary of Latvia as a Republic. (Photo: Author)
The Estonian-themed Airbus A220-300 is named Tallinn, and it’s the 38th of the type to roll out of the production line. (Photo: Author)
Vilnius is the Lithuanian-themed Airbus A220-300. The aircraft was the last of the three to be painted with its patriotic colors. (Photo: Author)

“Today, we offer more than 80 direct routes out of all capitals of the Baltic States, and we will continue our sustainable growth path helping their development,” Gauss said.

Established in 1995, airBaltic has played a major role in the economic development of the Baltic countries. Today, the airline serves 80 destinations and boasts a fleet of 39 aircraft.

Back in November 2016, it became the launch customer of the Airbus A220-300 (formerly known as Bombardier CS300) and ranks among the main operators of the type with 19 aircraft in service, plus 31 yet to be delivered.

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The new additions to the fleet are also helping to increase the traffic numbers. In July 2019, the airline served over 6,200 flights, an increase of 18% year-over-year, with load factors above 85%.

During the event, airBaltic together with Baltic musicians —Latvian band Instrumenti, Lithuanian singer Jazzu and Ewert Sundja, the leader of the Estonian band Ewert and the Two Dragons—presented Via Baltica, a song dedicated to the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way. 

According to airBaltic, “The song encourages people to remember and to pass on the value of freedom from generation to generation – the freedom that the people of these countries yearned for with the Baltic Way.”

Thirty years on, Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania are now blossoming, independent countries and airBaltic is connecting these nations to the world by opening new markets that boost the local economies of the Baltic, bringing new business opportunities and reaching new frontiers in Europe, Scandinavia, Russia, CIS, and the Middle East.