LONDON – Air Baltic announced it is considering an expansion of its current maintenance facilities to be able to conduct heavier checks on their Airbus A220 fleet.

The Latvian carrier currently conducts A-checks on its entire fleet, which includes Boeing 737 classics and Bombardiers Q400 Dash-8 turboprops.

The airline said that C-checks are currently being conducted on their aircraft by external suppliers, but in a statement to Flight Global, Air Baltic said, “Currently, we plan to do [A220 C-checks] ourselves. The first C-Check on an Air Baltic A220 is currently set to be completed by the fourth quarter of 2019.”

Air Baltic is the launch customer of the A220-300 and began operations with the aircraft back in 2016.

Then known as the Bombardier CSeries CS300, Air Baltic became the second airline to add to add and operate a Pratt & Whitney PW1500G-powered CSeries type to its fleet after Swiss Air, who had earlier the same year taken delivery of their first CS100 (A220-100).

The airline said that the A220 has performed “beyond Air Baltic’s expectations and achieved very high utilization rates”. The carrier currently operates 14 of the A220-300s in its fleet and has got an additional 36 of the aircraft still on order.

Flight Global reached out to Samco who declined to comment on their maintenance facility, which is currently believed to be the only A220 certified center in Europe which can provide base checks on the aircraft.

Swiss, who have operated the A220 since launch, said that it has been arranged that Samco will conduct the base checks on their A220s to save the airline from having to reach a deal with Airbus to use an aftermarket support agreement.

While there have been no clear plans laid out by Air Baltic on how they are likely to proceed with this new maintenance expansion, it is clear that the carrier is committed to the operations of the A220 and the versatility it offers them.

The Latvian carrier is set to become the world’s first A220-only operator, as it plans to phase out all 737s and Q400s from its fleet.

With this new capability for the airline due to be in operation by the fourth quarter of 2019, only time will tell on how the carrier will move to adjust to this new requirement.

It is our understanding that Airbus has not announced any plans for new A220 support facilities for base checks.

Looking Back: The Air Baltic A220 Order

The airline welcomed its first A220 in November 2016, which successfully entered into service in December that year.

As Martin Gauss, the airline’s CEO, told Airways in the midst of the Farnborough Air Show 2018, “one of the key things we did to turn the company around was to order this aircraft. The A220 is key to what we do,” he said.

Today, the airline runs a mixed fleet of 33 airplanes: 12 Bombardier Q400s, 14 Airbus A220s, and 8 Boeing 737s. But this fleet mixture is about to end.

“We’re phasing out everything but the A220s,” revealed Gauss. “We’re becoming the world’s first all-A220 operator.”

Moving towards a single-fleet strategy is key for Gauss and his team. airBaltic hopes to reduce the cost per available seat/kilometer (CASK) metric by more than 20% with the arrival of the new A220s and the phase out of the older 737s.

And thanks to the already proven reliability of the A220—which swanks a dispatch reliability of 99.85%—airBaltic signed a purchase order for another 30 firm plus 30 options, totaling 60 Airbus A220 jets, valued at $5.9 billion if all rights are exercised.

Adding to the 20 planes that it had already ordered, the Latvian carrier will have a massive fleet of 80 A220s. And it’s all possible because the airline is profitable.