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AirBaltic logo.svg
IATA ICAO Callsign
Founded 1995
Hubs Riga International Airport
Frequent-flyer program PINS
Fleet size 24
Destinations 60
Parent company Government of Latvia
Headquarters Riga International Airport
Mārupe municipality, Latvia
Key people Martin Gauss (CEO)
Revenue Increase €327.3 million (2012)[1]
Profit Increase €0.75 million (2013)[1]
An airBaltic Boeing 757−200WL takes off at Riga International Airport, the airline's base, with other aircraft in the fleet in the background (May 2010)

AS Air Baltic Corporation, operating as AirBaltic and styled as airBaltic, is the Latvian flag carrier airline and a low-cost carrier, with its head office on the grounds of Riga International Airport in Mārupe municipality, near the capital, Riga.[2] Its main hub is at Riga International Airport. It has been state owned since 30 November 2011. From 11 November 2015 it is currently the only flag carrier in any of the Baltic countries following the closure of Air Lituanica and Estonian Air.


Early history[edit]

The airline was established on 28 August 1995 with the signing of a joint venture between Scandinavian Airlines (SAS) and the Latvian state. Operations started on 1 October 1995 with the arrival of the first Air Baltic aircraft, a Saab 340, at Riga, and that afternoon, the plane made the first passenger flight for Air Baltic.[3]

In 1996, the airline's first Avro RJ70 was delivered; and Air Baltic joined the SAS frequent flier club as a partner. 1997 saw the opening of a cargo department and, in 1998, the airline's first Fokker 50 plane was delivered. The adopted livery was mainly white, with the name of the airline written in blue on the forward fuselage, the 'B' logo being heavily stylized in blue checks. The checker blue pattern was repeated on the aircraft tailfin.

In 1999, Air Baltic became a joint stock company; it was previously a limited liability company.[4] All of their Saab 340s were replaced by Fokker 50s. By September, the airline had begun operating under the European Aviation Operating Standards, or JAR ops. Air Baltic welcomed the new millennium by introducing new uniforms and opening a cargo center at Riga's airport.

The first Boeing 737–500 joined the fleet in 2003, and on 1 June 2004, Air Baltic launched services from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, initially to five destinations. In October 2004, Air Baltic was rebranded as AirBaltic. Their present livery consists of an all-white fuselage and lime tailfin. is displayed on the forward upper fuselage, and the word "Baltic" is repeated in blue on the lower part of the tailfin. In December 2006, the first Boeing 737–300 joined the fleet and was configured with winglets. In July 2007, AirBaltic introduced an online check-in system.[5] It was the first online check-in system in the Baltic states. In Spring 2008, two long-haul Boeing 757 joined the existing AirBaltic fleet. On 10 March 2008, it was announced that in the next three years the airline would acquire new aircraft, experiencing the largest fleet expansion in the company's history. The new additions will be next generation Q400 aircraft.

AirBaltic had strong links with SAS, which owned 47.2% of the airline, and operated frequent flights to SAS hubs in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm, and the airline formerly used the SAS EuroBonus frequent flyer programme, but it now has its own: PINS. Some of AirBaltic's products and services are still shared with SAS, including co-ordinated timetabling and shared airport lounges. AirBaltic is not a member of any airline alliance, but does have codeshare agreements in place with several Star Alliance member airlines and others.

AirBaltic had secondary hubs at Vilnius International Airport and Lennart Meri Tallinn Airport.[6] The majority of the routes commenced from Tallinn were cancelled shortly after opening, leading to complaints from the Estonian Consumer Protection Department.[7]

Sale by SAS of its investment in AirBaltic[edit]

In January 2009, SAS sold its entire stake in the company (47.2% of the airline) to Baltijas aviācijas sistēmas Ltd (BAS) for 14 million lats. BAS was wholly owned by Bertolt Flick (President and CEO) until December 2010, when 50% of BAS shares were transferred to Taurus Asset Management Fund Limited, registered in the Bahamas.[8]

Financial problems from 2011[edit]

A former airBaltic Fokker F50 (June 2010)

In August 2011, AirBaltic requested more than 60 million lats in capital as its losses continued to mount,[9] and suffered speculation about its financial position[10][11][12][13] and political scandals throughout 2011.[14][15] In mid-September 2011, the company announced plans to lay off around half its employees and cancel around 700 flights a month to avoid possible grounding.[16][17] The company also announced that a mystery investor was willing to pay 9.6 million euros for an additional 59,110 shares.[18] On 4 October 2011, the plans were annulled in order to make the necessary investments in the airline's capital. The government of Latvia and BAS agreed to invest around 100 million lats in the airline's share capital in proportion to their stakes in AirBaltic.[19][20] In connection with the agreement, Flick stepped down as long-term President and CEO of the airline. Martin Gauss, former CEO of Hungarian airline Malév, became the new CEO.[21]

AirBaltic had made an announcement on 23 September 2010 that it would establish a new secondary hub at Oulu Airport,[22][23] but in early 2012 it was confirmed that the Oulu hub plans had been cancelled due to AirBaltic's financial problems.[24]

The cost-cutting program, initiated by AirBaltic which aims to return to profitability in 2014, scored better than planned results in 2012, by narrowing its losses to -€27.2 million, from -€121.5 in 2011.[1][25]

On July 22, 2014, AirBaltic became the first airline in the world accepting Bitcoin for online bookings.[26]

Corporate affairs[edit]

The airline's main hub, Riga Airport, also houses the corporate head offices


The primary shareholder is the Latvian state with 99.8% of stock. The state increased its shareholding to this figure on 30 November 2011, following the collapse of a bank linked with a finance package negotiated for the airline,[27][28]

Business trends[edit]

The airline's full accounts have not always been published regularly; figures disclosed by Air Baltic for recent years are shown below (for years ending 31 December):

An airBaltic Boeing 737–300WL at Paris Charles de Gaulle Airport (February 2010)
2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013 2014 2015
(until August)
Turnover (Ls m) 159 - 182 204 230 229 - - -
Turnover (€m) - - 261 292 327 326 325 300 -
Net Profits after tax (Ls m) 1 - 14 −36 −85 −19 - - -
Net Profits after tax (€m) - - 20 −52 −121 −27 1 9 3
Number of employees 919 - - 1,443 - 1,100 - - -
Number of passengers (m) 2.0 2.6 2.8 3.2 3.3 3.1 2.9 2.8 -
Passenger load factor (%) 63 62 68 69 75 72 - - -
Number of aircraft (at year end) - - - - - 28 25 24 24
Notes/sources [29][30] [30] [31][32] [31][33]
[33] [33][35] [36] [37] [38]


AirBaltic destinations.
  AirBaltic destinations

AirBaltic operates 60 direct flights from Riga (some of which are seasonal).

Codeshare agreements[edit]

AirBaltic has codeshare agreements with the following airlines (as of May 2013):


Current fleet[edit]

As of March 2015, the AirBaltic fleet consists of the following aircraft with an average age of 13.6 years:[42][43]

An AirBaltic Boeing 737–500, pictured in June 2010
An AirBaltic Bombardier Dash 8, pictured in April 2011
AirBaltic fleet
Aircraft In Service Orders Options Seats Notes
Boeing 737–300 8 144 6 with winglets, to be phased-out by 2017, replaced by Bombardier CS300
Boeing 737–500 5 120 To be phased-out by 2017, replaced by Bombardier CS300
Bombardier CS300 0 13 7 148 To enter service in 2016, replacing Boeing 737–300 and 737-500
Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 NextGen 12 76
Totals 24 13 7
An Avro RJ70 in a previous Air Baltic livery, in May 2002

Historic fleet[edit]

AirBaltic Historic Fleet[44][45][46]
Aircraft Introduced Retired Notes
Avro RJ70 1995 2005 Replaced by Boeing 737-500
Boeing 757 2008 2014 Operated on seasonal basis
Fokker 50 1998 2013 Replaced by Bombardier Q400
Saab 340 1995 1999 Replaced by Fokker 50

Saab 340 Fokker 50 Bombardier Dash 8#Series 400 Boeing 757#757-200 Boeing 737#737-500 Boeing 737#737-300 British Aerospace 146


Inflight services[edit]

On most flights, AirBaltic offers a buy on board menu offering food and drinks for purchase.[47]


AirBaltic was chosen for ANNIES Award in 2010[48] as Europe's largest flag carrier by new routes.

Incidents and accidents[edit]

  • On 8 August 2015, the pilot, co-pilot, and two out of three stewardesses on a scheduled Air Baltic flight from Oslo Airport Gardermoen to Chania International Airport were arrested for having an illegally high blood alcohol content while boarding the plane. An anonymous tip had prompted the police to employ a breathalyzer.[49] The flight was delayed for several hours until a new crew could arrive. The arrested crew was temporarily suspended by the airline.[50]


  1. ^ a b c "airBaltic ahead of schedule to reach profitability in 2014". Centre for Aviation. 
  2. ^ "airBaltic in Riga." AirBaltic. Retrieved on 16 January 2010. "Air Baltic Corporation AS Registration number: 40003245752 ADMINISTRATION RIGA INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT Marupes county, LV-1053, Latvia"
  3. ^ "Company history". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  4. ^ "Company history." AirBaltic. Retrieved on 22 November 2011.
  5. ^ "airBaltic introduces Internet check-in for flights". 2007-07-31. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  6. ^ "Opening of Tallinn Base". 
  7. ^ "Warning About Cancellation of Flights From Tallinn". 
  8. ^ "Changes in airBaltic shareholders structure". 2010-12-16. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  9. ^ "AirBaltic in need of massive investment as losses mount". 2011-08-19. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  10. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2011-06-27). "Antonov: airBaltic will continue its business". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  11. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2011-09-14). "Tallinn Airport: airBaltic owes us money". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  12. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2011-06-28). "Bookinghouse stops selling tickets to airBaltic flights". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  13. ^ "airBaltic starts cancelling flights". 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  14. ^ "Former Latvian president unleashed on the head of airBaltic corruption fighters". Archived from the original on 2012-03-25. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  15. ^ "Suspected illegal activity haunts airBaltic". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  16. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2011-09-16). "airBaltic starts massive layoffs". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  17. ^ "Update: AirBaltic cancels flights through December". Archived from the original on April 2, 2012. Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  18. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2011-09-13). "Breaking news: airBaltic sells shares, cancels flights". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  19. ^ Alla Petrova (2012-10-17). "Agreement officially signed on bail out of airBaltic". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  20. ^ Latvian government approves airBaltic deal Archived April 3, 2015 at the Wayback Machine
  21. ^ Toomas Hõbemägi (2011-10-24). "Martin Gauss confirmed as new CEO of airBaltic". Retrieved 2013-04-20. 
  22. ^ "Air Baltic Setting up Oulu Hub". YLE News. Helsinki: Yleisradio Oy. 23 September 2010. Archived from the original on 26 September 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  23. ^ "airBaltic to Open a New Hub in Oulu, Finland". Riga: A/S Air Baltic Corporation. 23 September 2010. Archived from the original on 24 September 2010. Retrieved 23 September 2010. 
  24. ^ "Air Balticin solmusuunnitelma kuivui kasaan" (in Finnish). YLE uutiset. 23 March 2012. Retrieved 5 February 2012. 
  25. ^ "AirBaltic 2012 Loss Beats Plan on Reduced Fleet Size, Christmas". Bloomberg. 
  26. ^ AirBaltic announces Bitcoin support
  27. ^ "airBaltic's future uncertain after Krajbanka's collapse" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  28. ^ "Latvian government takes over airBaltic" Check |url= scheme (help). 
  29. ^ "airBaltic Announces 2007 Financial Results". airBaltic. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  30. ^ a b "airBaltic in 2008 carried 29% more passengers than the year before (archived)". airBaltic. Archived from the original on May 13, 2011. Retrieved 20 August 2013. 
  31. ^ a b "airBaltic’s restructuring plan is in full swing, but competition from Estonian Air is rising". CAPA Centre for Aviation. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  32. ^ a b "airBaltic carries over 3 million passengers in 2010". airBaltic. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  33. ^ a b c "airBaltic Beats Expectations for 2012, Improves Result by LVL +66 Million". airBaltic. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  34. ^ "Latvia steps in to save national carrier AirBaltic". Reuters. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  35. ^ "airBaltic Serves 3.08 Million Passengers in 2012". airBaltic. Retrieved 31 May 2013. 
  36. ^ airBaltic. "airBaltic Profits and Annual Report Approved". 
  37. ^ "airBaltic concludes the year 2014 with EUR 9 mln profit". The Baltic Course. Retrieved 7 April 2015. 
  38. ^ "Company Overview of Air Baltic Corporation AS". Bloomberg. Archived from the original on 9 November 2015. Retrieved 11 November 2015. 
  39. ^ L, J (5 August 2014). "Aegean Airlines / airBaltic Begins Codeshare Service from August 2014". Airline Routes. Retrieved 5 August 2014. 
  40. ^ L, J (3 November 2015). "airBaltic / Air Serbia Expands Codeshare Partnership from Nov 2015". Airline Route. Retrieved 3 November 2015. 
  41. ^ L, J (28 October 2015). "LOT Polish Airlines / airBaltic Launches Codeshare Service from late-Oct 2015". Airline Route. Retrieved 28 October 2015. 
  42. ^ "Our Fleet". airBaltic. 
  43. ^ "airBaltic – CH-Aviation". 
  44. ^ "AirBaltic fleet list at". Retrieved March 29, 2015. 
  45. ^ "Air Baltic Accelerates Fleet Renewal Plans". 
  46. ^ "airBaltic opts to acquire CSeries aircraft as part of turnaround effort". 
  47. ^ "airCafe." AirBaltic. Accessed 30 October 2008.
  48. ^ "Introducing the Euro annies – proper awards based on science, statistics and evidence". Airline News & Analysis. 
  49. ^ "Pilot and crew pulled off Oslo plane after failing breath test". Yahoo! News. Retrieved 2015-08-09. 
  50. ^ "Promille-besetningens forsvarer: Ikke en god situasjon å være i". VG Nett. Retrieved 2015-08-09. 

External links[edit]