Latvian carrier airBaltic is branching outs its in-house maintenance operations, adding Airbus A220 C checks at its Riga home base and setting up a new Bombardier Q400 line-maintenance station in Tallinn, Estonia.
AirBaltic operates a fleet of 37 aircraft: 12 Bombardier Q400s, 14 Airbus A220-300s and 11 Boeing 737-300/500s. The airline has a total commitment for 50 Airbus A220s, plus 30 options, which will ultimately replace the Q400s and 737s.
Under the current business plan, airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss expects to take all 80 A220s and it is likely the 30 options will be firmed from next year. The 11 remaining 737s will be phased out by the end of 2020 and the Q400s will be returned to their lessors around 2022-23.
AirBaltic performs its own line maintenance and A-checks at its Riga home base, covering all three aircraft types. Heavy maintenance is outsourced. The 737s are sent to Hungary for their C checks, while the Q400 C-check work is performed in Canada. AirBaltic’s maintenance program does not include B checks.
“For the Airbus A220-300, the first C check is due to be carried out in the second half of 2019, and currently we plan to do it by ourselves,” says an airBaltic. Bringing this capability in-house fits with the airline’s plans to become an all A220-operator.
AirBaltic has been strategically expanding its presence across the Baltics. In 2019, the Riga-based airline will operate 12 routes from Tallinn in neighboring Estonia and six routes from Vilnius in Lithuania, but Riga remains its only true hub. In tandem with this expansion, airBaltic is setting up its first line-maintenance facilities outside of Riga.
“The airline plans to open new line maintenance facilities at Tallinn Airport for the Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft by the end of this year. Currently the process of securing the necessary facilities is still ongoing. As a result, it would increase the overall line maintenance capacities of airBaltic, while not affecting maintenance operations in Riga,” the airBaltic spokesperson said.
The spokesperson stressed that there are no plans to perform heavy maintenance work in Tallinn
AirBaltic operates direct flights from Tallinn to Amsterdam, Berlin, London, Oslo, Paris, Riga, Stockholm, Vienna and Vilnius. In 2019, a further three direct routes will be added from Tallinn, serving Brussels, Copenhagen and Malaga. “In order to do that, airBaltic will base additional aircraft at the Tallinn Airport,” the airline said.
In total, airBaltic serves over 70 destinations from Riga, Tallinn and Vilnius, spanning Europe, Scandinavia, the Commonwealth of Independent States (CIS) and the Middle East.