AirBaltic has faced difficulties from the Ukraine invasion and engine overhaul delays.

Though AirBaltic states it has correctly adapted its small business to counter the influence of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine on its network and revenues, ongoing problems with the Pratt & Whitney PW1500G geared turbofan engines that electrical power its Airbus A220 fleet remain a headache for the Latvian state-owned airline. Prolonged turnaround situations for servicing the engines are continuing to bring about operational disruption.

“To be very clear, the PW1500G powerplants are incredibly excellent. We have flown them for 6 several years now. They are overperforming in terms of fuel and thus CO2 emission cost savings, AirBaltic CEO Martin Gauss explained to AIN. “The significant difficulty for us is Pratt & Whitney not currently being able to overhaul the engines in the sum of time they promised us. We obtained informed that provide chain challenges are producing a shortage in parts and they do not have sufficient spare engines to give to customers.”

Dismantling engines from the plane, delivery them to the maintenance, fix, and overhaul (MRO) facility, and refitting them on the wing made use of to acquire 6 months. Now, a important motor overhaul usually takes as prolonged as 8 months, in accordance to Gauss. The timing fluctuates somewhat relying the mandated times in between overhauls but in early December 7 A222-300s have been standing idle on the tarmac in Riga, the airline’s major hub, without having engines.

“That is 14 engines that we are missing,” Gauss stated. The lack of spare engines prevented AirBaltic from flying its personal fleet at total ability this summer time and pressured the carrier to deal alternative capacity—of on average four aircraft—with 5 ACMI wet lease providers to fulfill article-Covid desire for flights.  “Our unhappiness [with the situation] is reflected in conversations we have with Airbus and Pratt & Whitney,” he commented.

The discontent resulted in AirBaltic and Pratt & Whitney moving into in a supplemental professional aid settlement outlining how these operational difficulties are resolved. It also specifies the support the airline can get in circumstance its A220s are unavailable for operations because of to outlined motor operational troubles and there are no alternative engines available. Requested no matter whether the agreement covers all the previous charges and potential charges associated to the PW1500G engines, Gauss stated only that the organization “does not disclose compensation.”

The plane engine maker has acknowledged the troubles brought about by potential challenges in its products guidance network. “We’re going through global source chain worries like many in the industry which are restricting the availability of structural castings and other areas,” a Pratt & Whitney spokesperson informed AIN. “We’re functioning on mitigation procedures with our supply base and increasing MRO network potential. At the exact time, we’re continuing technological know-how upgrades to increase motor time on the wing. We expect pressures to begin to ease in 2023 which will assistance the output of both equally creation and MRO engines.”

Irrespective of the motor servicing troubles, AirBaltic has ongoing to expand its A220 fleet. The provider was the launch operator of the A220-300, in November 2016, when the twinjet was continue to section of Bombardier’s product or service portfolio underneath the CSeries title.

The Japanese European airline ranks as the next major operator of the plane after Delta Air Lines, which has 58 A220s—45 of the smaller -100 and 13 -300s—in its fleet, according to Airbus facts by means of the close of November.

AirBaltic took supply of its 37th and 38th aircraft registered as YL-ABK and YL-ABL, late last month. A even further two are because of to arrive in the Latvian capital Riga right before calendar year-finish or early January based on Airbus’s stressed shipping and delivery plan. An extra 8 A220-300s are set to get there in 2023 and the final two of its company purchase for 50 of the style are scheduled for 2024. “Now we are wanting at how we will deal with the 30 choices and buy rights we hold,” explained Gauss.

AirBaltic posted a net income (prior to extraordinary items) in the third quarter and an running earnings for the initial nine months of the year as it benefitted from a solid write-up-Covid-19 demand from customers restoration and managed to offset the outcomes of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. AirBaltic and Finnair are amid the European airways the most impacted by the war and the closure of Ukrainian and Russian air space for European operators. AirBaltic has supplemental bases at Tallinn (Estonia), Vilnius (Lithuanian), and Tampere (Finland).

“We shed all our immediate and transfer website traffic to Russia, all our website traffic to Ukraine and we have to circumnavigate some of our Eastern European destinations,” pointed out Gauss. The airline’s small business prepare for 2022 experienced projected that direct site visitors to Ukraine and Russia would account for 7 per cent and 3 p.c of revenues, respectively. 

“We showed amazing resilience and overall flexibility in adapting the small business,” Gauss asserted. The network was tweaked with new places this kind of as Marrakesh in Morocco and Gran Canaria, 1 of Spain’s Canary Islands, and it drastically expanded its ACMI action to compensate for the more compact network.

In the 3rd quarter of 2022, AirBaltic deployed 1.48 million seats (about 74 {09e594db938380acbda72fd0ffbcd1ef1c99380160786adb3aba3c50c4545157} of 2019 ranges) in its individual network and about .66 million seats on wet-lease contracts with SAS Scandinavian Airlines and Eurowings/Eurowings Uncover. The whole amount of seat capability deployed exceeded 2.4 million which was an increase over the complete seats deployed in the 3rd quarter of 2019. This winter season schedule, AirBaltic has 6 A220-300s based in Zurich to provide the Swiss network.

“For future summer time we are setting up to use 14 plane on damp lease contracts with diverse airways, like Swiss,” Gauss stated, describing ACMI operations as a “good business” for airBaltic. “The plane are new, it has a small functioning expense, passengers like it and mainly because we are a hybrid provider our crews have experience with a support model that brings together an ultra-lower-value principle in financial system with a thoroughly-fledged business enterprise class,” he stated.

The subcontracting of up to 15 plane with crew, servicing and insurance was also aspect of the business strategy AirBaltic submitted to the European Commission when it sought acceptance for the Latvian government’s investment decision of €250 million in 2020 to compensate the losses induced by the Covid-19 pandemic. The approach calls for AirBaltic to repay the recapitalization via a inventory exchange listing predicted no earlier than November 2024.