AirBaltic is considering the A321XLR for the near future – Airways Magazine

DALLAS – Growing rapidly and dynamically, Air Baltic (BT) has caught the attention of many, not only in Europe but all over the world.

Until a few years ago you’d find the airline flying the classic Boeing 737 and Dash 8 series, but after a fleet cleanup it’s now the one and only airline in the world to operate a single fleet of Airbus A220s. The aircraft allowed BT to fly longer and expand its network beyond mainland Europe from its base in Riga (RIX).

I was recently able to exchange a few questions with the CEO of Air Baltic, Mr. Martin Gauss, who also flies the A220 from time to time, about how the airline is working on its network given the loss of markets Russian and Ukrainian.

On the sidelines in the near future, BT seems to be considering and leaning towards the Airbus A321XLR to cater to certain leisure destinations rather than rushing into jumbo jets. Here is the full interview.

Photo: AirBaltic

SG: Summer demand seems phenomenal, despite being in the midst of an airport staff crisis across Europe, how much of your network is struggling because of this (given that Amsterdam is a hub crucial connection for you)?

MG: Due to the easing of Covid-19 related restrictions around the world, we are seeing a noticeable overall increase in passenger demand. Among the most popular destinations are still various leisure destinations, for example in the Mediterranean region. However, we also see more and more travelers taking advantage of city breaks in major European capitals. Currently, airBaltic offers 100 routes from its home bases.

Over the past two weeks, we have seen disruption due to staff shortages and strikes at various European hubs. These disruptions have mainly caused delays in flight departure times because in cases where there are larger queues at the airport, we try to wait for the remaining passengers as long as possible.

If our passengers miss their flight due to a lack of staff at the airport, we invite them to contact our colleagues at the call center who will help them further and try to find an appropriate solution.

Do you feel a little twinge at the thought of losing Moscow and St. Petersburg to the Ukraine crisis? New routes to cover them?

Since the airspace closure, we have seen an impact from canceled routes in Russia, particularly in terms of transfer passengers who have used our home base in Riga as a transfer hub for other destinations within the airBaltic’s network in Europe, the CIS and the Middle East. .

To cope with the additional capacity caused by canceled routes, airBaltic has made several network adjustments – both in terms of increasing flight frequencies and launching new routes. In May we launched direct flights between Riga and Batumi in Georgia, and in the 2022/2023 winter season we will launch our first destination in Africa – Marrakech in Morocco.

Baltic Air YL-AAU Airbus A220-371. Photo: John Leivaditis/Airways

Simply put, why is the A220 a perfect fit for you? When do you plan to introduce the 149-seat high-density A220 as approved?

airBaltic is proud to operate a fleet of one type of the greenest commercial aircraft currently in the sky – the Airbus A220-300. The type of aircraft has given us many advantages. Starting with increased comfort for our passengers and crew through wider seats, more stowage space for hand luggage and more to the environmental performance of the aircraft type, it provides an excellent flight experience. overall. It was the right choice for the renewal of the airBaltic fleet.

At the end of February 2022, we received our first A220-300 which is certified to operate up to 149 seats. Until then, we could use 145 seats on the aircraft, but in the future, the existing fleet will also be adjusted to use the additional capacity, which will enhance the efficiency of our operations.

airBaltic plans to unlock the additional seats across its entire fleet by summer 2023.

AirBaltic picture

Beyond the A220, you seem interested in the A321XLR. Do you want to comment?

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Featured image: Martin Gauss, CEO of Air Baltic. Photo: Baltic Air