|Hubs||Riga International Airport|
|Secondary hubs||Tallinn Airport, Vilnius Airport|
|Parent company||Government of Latvia|
|Headquarters||Riga International Airport
Mārupe municipality, Latvia
|Key people||Martin Gauss (CEO)|
|Revenue||€285 million (2015)|
|Profit||€19.5 million (2015)|
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. Its main hub is at Riga International Airport. It has been state owned since 30 November 2011. Following the closure of Air Lituanica and Estonian Air respectively in June and November 2015, it is alongside Nordica, one of two flag carriers in the Baltic countries.
- 1 History
- 2 Corporate affairs
- 3 Destinations
- 4 Fleet
- 5 Services
- 6 Accidents
- 7 References
- 8 External links
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.
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. 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. AirBaltic.com 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. 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. The majority of the routes commenced from Tallinn were cancelled shortly after opening, leading to complaints from the Estonian Consumer Protection Department.
Sale by SAS of its investment in AirBaltic
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.
Financial problems from 2011
In August 2011, AirBaltic requested more than 60 million lats in capital as its losses continued to mount, and suffered speculation about its financial position and political scandals throughout 2011. 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. The company also announced that a mystery investor was willing to pay 9.6 million euros for an additional 59,110 shares. 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. 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.
AirBaltic had made an announcement on 23 September 2010 that it would establish a new secondary hub at Oulu Airport, but in early 2012 it was confirmed that the Oulu hub plans had been cancelled due to AirBaltic's financial problems.
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.
|State of the Republic of Latvia (represented by the Ministry of Transport)||80%|
|Aircraft Leasing 1 SIA (wholly owned by private investor Ralf Dieter Montag-Girmes)||20%|
The state's shareholding had been 99.8% since 30 November 2011, following the collapse of a bank linked with a finance package negotiated for the airline, but on 6 November 2015 it was reported that the Latvian Cabinet of Ministers had approved plans to sell 20% of airBaltic to German investor Ralf Dieter Montag-Girmes for €52 million and agreed to invest a further €80 million in the airline. The total of €132 million of fresh capital for the carrier is intended to spur its Horizon 2021 business plan and fleet modernisation.  
The airline's full accounts have not always been published regularly; figures disclosed by Air Baltic via various publications are shown below (for years ending 31 December):
|Turnover (Ls m)||159||-||182||204||230||229|
|Net Profits after tax (Ls m)||1||-||14||−36||−85||−19|
|Net Profits after tax (€m)||-||-||20||−52||−121||−27||1||9||19.5|
|Number of employees||919||-||-||1,443||-||1,100||-||-||n/a|
|Number of passengers (m)||2.0||2.6||2.8||3.2||3.3||3.1||2.9||2.6||2.6|
|Passenger load factor (%)||63||62||68||69||75||72||-||70||71|
|Number of aircraft (at year end)||21||28||31||35||34||28||25||24||24|
AirBaltic operates 50 direct flights from Riga (some of which are seasonal).
AirBaltic has codeshare agreements with the following airlines (as of May 2013):
- Uzbekistan Airways, have a codeshare agreement, which operates nonstop transatlantic flight Riga-New York (from Tashkent), aboard a Boeing 767-300ER.
|Boeing 737–300||7||—||144||144||To be phased-out by 2017, replaced by Bombardier CS300|
|To be phased-out by 2017, replaced by Bombardier CS300|
|Bombardier CS300||—||20||148||148||To enter service in 2016, replacing all Boeing 737|
|Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 NextGen||12||—||76||76|
|Airbus A319||2013||2014||Leased from and operated by Czech Airlines for 3 months|
|Avro RJ70||1996||2005||Replaced by Boeing 737–500|
|British Aerospace 146-200||1995||1996||Leased for 3 months|
|Boeing 757||2008||2014||Operated on seasonal basis|
|Fokker 50||1998||2013||Replaced by Bombardier Q400|
|Saab 340||1995||1999||Replaced by Fokker 50|
AirBaltic was chosen for anna.aero ANNIES Award in 2010 as Europe's largest flag carrier by new routes. The company has been awarded by OAG for being the most punctual airline in the world in 2014 and 2015
A drunken airBaltic crew, whose co-pilot's bloodstream had seven times the legal alcohol limit, was stopped by the police in Oslo before takeoff on August 17, 2015. The second officer was given a six months prison sentence while the captain and flight attendants also faced proceedings after an anonymous tip-off stopped them taking charge of a flight from Norway to the Island of Crete.
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- "Company history." AirBaltic. Retrieved on 22 November 2011.
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- AirBaltic announces Bitcoin support
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- "airBaltic and SMS" (PDF). airBaltic. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
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- "airBaltic Beats Expectations for 2012, Improves Result by LVL +66 Million". airBaltic. Retrieved 31 May 2013.
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- "Restructuring rigour from Riga: airBaltic narrows 2012 net loss". CAPA Centre for Aviation. Retrieved 17 December 2015.
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- "airBaltic concludes the year 2014 with EUR 9 mln profit". The Baltic Course. Retrieved 7 April 2015.
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- L, J (5 August 2014). "Aegean Airlines / airBaltic Begins Codeshare Service from August 2014". Airline Routes. Retrieved 5 August 2014.
- L, J (3 November 2015). "airBaltic / Air Serbia Expands Codeshare Partnership from Nov 2015". Airline Route. Retrieved 3 November 2015.
- "AZAL and airBaltic to operate joint flights to Riga". Azerbaijan Airlines. Retrieved 17 February 2016.
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- "Our Fleet". airBaltic.
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- "AirBaltic fleet list at planespotters.net". Retrieved March 29, 2015.
- "Air Baltic Accelerates Fleet Renewal Plans".
- "airBaltic opts to acquire CSeries aircraft as part of turnaround effort".
- "airCafe." AirBaltic. Accessed 30 October 2008.
- anna.aero. "Introducing the Euro annies – proper awards based on science, statistics and evidence". anna.aero Airline News & Analysis.
- eng.lsm.lv. "airBaltic named world's most punctual airline (again)".
- "the guardian news article".
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