By Benjamin Pham
How AirBaltic Is Preparing For Next Summer
The lengthy, ongoing circumstances and challenges from the Covid-19 pandemic are evolving and continue to be at large as new scientific developments emerge. Simultaneously, the airline industry has been attempting to be constantly responsive and alert, adapting to overcome obstacles from the dilemma. Passenger travel demand continues to experience ebb and flow, gradually rising as travel restrictions are eased and more borders reopen.
While some travel safety protocols remain in place, the higher passenger load factors encouraged several major airlines like airBaltic to hire more staff to accommodate the surge ahead of time, along with adding new flight frequencies while expanding its fleet in favor of more efficient aircraft.
Currently, 320 brand new crew members consisting of 120 pilots and 200 flight attendants are expected to join ahead of the summer 2022 holiday and leisure travel season. The Latvian flag carrier plans to welcome back former pilots who were released from duties at the height of the Covid-19 predicament last year as well as graduates from the airline’s pilot academy.
“We are pleased to see a growing demand for travel and have launched various new destinations this year. In line with an increasing vaccination coverage worldwide and eased travel restrictions, we are ready to scale our flight operations again. That is why we have come to a decision to rehire our former employees and add new team members to our crew for the next summer season,” Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic, said.
Meanwhile, as the airline’s workforce returns and grows for its flight operations, the carrier intends to expand its fleet of Airbus A220-300s by the end of next year after recently receiving its 31st aircraft, which was the carrier’s sixth of seven deliveries expected this year. The Riga-based carrier solely operates this aircraft variant after strategically planning and deciding to phase out its older and less efficient Boeing 737s in 2019 and 2020.
Gauss added, “In 2022, we also plan to receive eight additional brand new Airbus A220-300 aircraft. By hiring additional flight crew now, we will continue our preparations for performing flights with a fleet of 40 aircraft which we expect to have by the end of 2022.”
Throughout the Covid-19 conundrum, airBaltic sustained its flight operations, which potentially played a significant role in staying afloat and preserving its route network. In mid-September, the carrier announced that its current route network exceeded its offering from 2019. The airline currently flies nearly 90 routes from its hubs in Riga, Latvia; Tallinn, Estonia and Vilnius, Lithuania.
“airBaltic connects the Baltic region with over 30 different countries. Thanks to a strong codeshare network of 24 different partners, many of whom offer global connectivity, airBaltic passengers can conveniently reach many regions of the world,” Gauss said, a philosophy accurately portrayed by the carrier’s strategy and the decision to receive more aircraft, pump hundreds of more seats and strengthen its workforce.
Clearly, airBaltic is preparing itself to have a larger presence across Europe and being attentive to the ongoing trends within the aviation industry. There is no doubt that passengers are eager to travel next year as well, and crew members are needed to operate the flights. However, it is imperative that airBaltic is aware of the new costs and smoothly integrating the staff and aircraft back into operations.