Six of airBaltic’s Airbus A220 aircraft are grounded due to a lack of spare parts, the airline’s chief executive has revealed.
The Latvian-based carrier has 36 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in its fleet, but not all of them can fly at present, Martin Gauss said in a message to passengers apologizing for recent delays.
“Currently, global supply chain issues are forcing six of our aircraft to remain on the ground because we are missing spare parts for regular maintenance work,” Gauss explained. Some of the grounded aircraft have been out of action for six months, which he described as “very uncommon”.
The rebound in air travel in 2022 has meant increased demand for spare airplane parts, but supply chain issues are hindering plans to ramp up production, French aerospace firm Safran said in its first-half earnings on July 28, 2022.
“Frankly speaking, I think the supply chain issues are going to last probably until 2023, maybe the end of 2023,” chief executive Olivier Andriès told analysts.
To make up for the grounded planes, airBaltic is therefore wet leasing aircraft from other airlines, including Ukrainian flag carrier UIA.
Gauss also said staffing at major airports in Europe was behind delays suffered by airBaltic. While Riga and other airports in the Baltics are well staffed, meaning airBaltic flights can depart on time in the morning, delays are caused elsewhere in Europe.
“The reasons are simple: airports do not have enough staff to load baggage or work at the gates and security controls,” Gauss said. “For us, this means that, although we fly with you to these airports on time in the morning, our return flights are delayed, which leads to delays for subsequent flights as well.”
Gauss said a return to normal operations was not far off. “When summer is over and we will have reduced our flight programme for the winter season, European airports should be able to handle the situation better.”