RIGA - Latvia's national airline airBaltic still has a goal to expand it fleet to 80 Airbus A220-300 aircraft, said airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.
"Our airline was on a very strong path to execute its business plan. The first months of this year again showed new records in passenger numbers and revenues. However, in just two months, the current global crisis put a stop to all the achievements of the past eight years. In line with other airlines, the base for our successful business has completely changed," Gauss said in a statement.
He voiced appreciation for the significant support and trust the Latvian government, the employees, the Latvian public and the airline's partners across the world.
He said that the airline is thankful after the decision of the Latvian state to significantly increase the equity of airBaltic. "We understand that this crisis required extraordinary measures to overcome the economic effects of it. The forward-looking decision of the Government of Latvia will enable airBaltic to deliver strong connectivity also in the future," he said.
With the new equity, airBaltic will execute our Destination 2025 CLEAN business plan, which focuses on a new start once international flights resume. This will enable us to return to a successful growth path once the effects of the COVID-19 crisis begin to ease. The Baltics will have a strong carrier connecting the region to the world.
"Our new Destination 2025 CLEAN business plan foresees a reduced fleet for the upcoming years, initially resuming operations with 22 Airbus A220-300 aircraft. The new plan takes into account the reduced capacity for the years 2020 and 2021, while at the same time foreseeing a return to growth with up to 50 Airbus A220-300 aircraft by the end of 2023," said Gauss.
"We set out three main priorities to be able to go forward: stay, revise and grow. During the first stage, our main target was to achieve a significant cost reduction. This included revised payment schedules with all suppliers, staff reduction and postponement of all new investments as well as management salary reduction. We are in the process of revising our business model to come back better than we were before. We aim to modernise our product and become greener, cleaner and more easily approachable by customers," said Gauss.
airBaltic has been providing a notable contribution to the economies of Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania. airBaltic has not only brought millions of visitors to Latvia, Estonia and Lithuania and supported businesses and tourism, but has also been one of the largest taxpayers in Latvia. Indirectly, airBaltic supports more than 30,000 jobs in Latvia, he said.
"The additional equity enables us to return to the third pillar of our current plan – growth. By 2025, we still aim to fly with up to 80 Airbus A220-300 aircraft and perform an IPO taking the airline to the stock market," Gauss said.
"Once travel restrictions are lifted, we intend to start our operations with only a few Airbus A220-300 aircraft. We then plan to gradually add one aircraft per week as demand returns. During the first week, we will fly to more than ten destinations. We will connect the Baltics with every major European business and leisure hub as soon as it will be possible to perform commercial flights to each of the cities," he said.