Air Baltic Now Has More Bases Than Engines

RIGA—After announcing a new seasonal base at Gran Canaria earlier this week, Air Baltic now has more bases than engines. Apart from Riga and the new Canary Island hub, Air Baltic now bases aircraft and crew at Tallinn, Vilnius and Tampere, as well as Düsseldorf, Zürich and Oslo under wet lease agreements with several airlines. These eight bases now outnumber the seven PW1500G engines the company owns, a result of the ongoing crisis with the Pratt & Whitney turbofans going on for years, resulting in significant losses and disruption of operations.

According to Air Baltic CEO Martin Gauss, three of the seven engines will be based at the Riga hub to be rotated around the A220 fleet stationed there, with two engines to be installed on the aircraft operating the longer flights to destinations such as Dubai and Tel Aviv, and the third engine kept available for shorter routes to Scandinavia or Eastern Europe where single engine operations are viable. The remaining four engines will be rotating through the other bases depending on the day of the week, with one dedicated engine for Vilnius, painted in the Lithuanian Flag livery.

On shorter routes, the performance loss of operating the the A220-300 on one engine is offset by the reduced weight and drag, also resulting in a 50% improvement in fuel efficiency. Gauss announced trials later this month to fly the shortest routes, including Riga to Palanga and Helsinki, without any engines at all, with a potential 100% savings in fuel cost.

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