airBaltic announces widespread layoffs, cancels hundreds of flights

  • 2011-09-16
  • TBT Staff

RIGA -- Latvian national airline airBaltic has announced that it will layoff nearly half of its employees and cancel hundreds of flights as financial problems persist.

The airline said it would layoff around 500 employees from all branches of the company, including pilots and cabin crew.

It said that more than a thousand flights would be cancelled in the coming months, totalling 726 in November and 723 in December.

"This decrease is directly related to the delayed decision on capital increase," said airBaltic CEO Bertolt Flick, who is currently in his home country of Germany. Flick said Prime Minister Valdis Dombrovskis "lacks knowledge and has no right to meddle with operational activities".

The airline has demanded that the government provide a 60 million-lat bailout so that it can continue with planned operations. Last year, airBaltic management saw massive losses of 34 million lats despite enjoying a record growth in traffic.

Dombrovskis had previously said that the state would be able to provide additional funding to the ailing airline, but only on the condition that Flick step down as company chief.

Earlier this year Latvia's politically independent anti-corruption watchdog KNAB raided the offices of airBaltic as part of a corruption investigation in which Flick's name was mentioned.