airBaltic said it will lease four additional aircraft from four different airlines for the upcoming summer season, citing engine turnaround delays at Pratt & Whitney.
The Riga Airport (RIX)-based airline previously announced that it would add four Airbus A320s from Avion Express to bolster its capacity for the three summer months in 2023. Now, the airline has contracted Estonia-based Aircraft, Crew, Maintenance, and Insurance (ACMI) operators XFly, Denmark’s Danish Air Transport (DAT), and Romanian Carpatair, as well as Cyprus Airways, which operates regularly scheduled flights, to lease four additional aircraft. airBaltic will lease XFly’s Mitsubishi CRJ900, DAT’s and Cyprus Airways Airbus A320s, and Carpatair’s A319 on a short-time basis.
“We are strongly committed to our contractual obligations to passengers and partners. However, the extended turnaround times for Pratt & Whitney servicing the engines are causing operational disruption for airBaltic,” commented Martin Gauss, the President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO) of airBaltic.
While Gauss noted that P&W is a “long-term partner of airBaltic,” he said that it could not meet its “promise on the improved turnaround times” and, as such, the Latvian airline scrambled to wet lease capacity from other carriers and ACMI operators.
Still, Gauss remains “optimistic”, as even some of the wet leased aircraft will offer more capacity to customers flying with airBaltic during the summer.
“In the meantime, we are taking all the necessary measures to ensure that the majority of our passengers continue to be transported by the backbone of our operations – the Airbus A220-300 aircraft,” Gauss added.
At the same time, airBaltic has committed 14 of its own Airbus A220-300 for other airlines to wet lease during the same summer 2023 period.
The Latvian carrier ended 2022 with a net loss of €54.2 million ($58.3 million), a significant improvement over the loss of €135.7 million ($146.2 million) in 2021.
Overall, airBaltic has 39 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in its fleet, with all 39 being powered by the Pratt & Whitney 1500G engine. According to ch-aviation.com data, 10 are currently inactive, five are in maintenance, and the remaining quintuple are stored at RIX.