airBaltic’s passenger numbers have increased by 30% in June 2023 when compared to June 2022, according to a press release by the company on the 7th July. The latest figures show that the airline was carrying 454,800 passengers in June 2023 when compared to 349,600 passengers in June 2022. In terms of the number flights, the Latvian national carrier has also managed to expand when with a 19% increase with 4160 flights in June 2023 when compared to 3500 in June 2022.
airBaltic, the Flagship carrier of Latvia, has been moving in the right direction in terms of its finances, with a better performance in the first quarter of this year with a 74% improvement in revenue between January and March 2023 when compared to the same period last year. However the company is still making a loss. As we know airBaltic’s passenger numbers, like many other airlines, would have been greatly affect by the pandemic and subsequent Covid restrictions. To make matters worse, the subsequent surge in demand once pandemic restrictions were lifted, and the inability of airports to cope due to lack of staff (as many had been laid of during the pandemic) meant that airlines had to initially restrict their flight numbers to ease congestion at airports. In addition, the war in Ukraine and airspace flight bans meant that there were additional costs for airlines rerouting flights and avoiding danger zones. Fuel costs also increased due to resulting sanctions as the purchase of oil and natural gas from Russia was heavily restricted.
airBaltic’s passenger numbers do seem to have recovered however. In addition, the airline has helped the flagship carrier of Ukraine (Ukrainian International Airlines) which was effectively grounded after the Russian invasion, by wet leasing their flight staff to use on airBaltic aircraft. What this essentially meant was that airBaltic effectively rented staff from Ukrainian International Airlines by paying the Ukrainian airline money for their services. This not only helped airBaltic to expand staff numbers quickly after the pandemic but also provided much needed income for Ukrainian International Airlines.
The Company’s Response
airBaltic, currently connects the Baltic region (area surrounding the Baltic sea in Northern Europe) with over 70 destinations in Europe, the Middle East and CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States-countries that were part of the former USSR that presumably do not have flight bans). According to the press release the airline is by far the most well known brand of Latvia contributing 2.5% to the country’s GDP (Gross Domestic Product: effectively depicts the country’s income). Over the past 27 years, according to the press release, the airline has developed into a strong, profitable and internationally respected airline with around 2300 employees. In response to the increase in airBaltic’s passenger numbers, Martin Gauss, President and CEO of airBaltic states that more and more people are choosing the airline as their preference. He also comments that they have introduced 20 new routes from their home markets (their bases in Latvia and other Baltic states) which has created a lot of interest and provided passengers with a wide range of travel options.
As one can see, the increase in airBaltic’s passenger numbers is part of a long history of success for the airline. In addition, the airline’s success has translated into financial gain for itself as well as others such as Ukrainian International Airlines. However the airline is still not in the profit zone. We therefore have to wait to see how this progresses.