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June 17, 2024
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airBaltic is in discussions with Airbus to exercise options for thirty Airbus A220-300s and place twenty new options. The latter would offer the airline the flexibility to opt for the stretched A220-500 when Airbus launches that version. CEO Martin Gauss confirmed a media report on Reuters to AirInsight on the sidelines of the IATA AGM in Istanbul. airBaltic keen to add more A220s but not until the GTF issues are solved.

airBaltic recently took delivery of the 42nd A220-300 and is expecting another five this year. In 2024, all fifty will have been delivered. “When we discussed our plans to launch an IPO, we said that we would like to grow our fleet to between eighty and 100 aircraft. By exercising our existing options and placing new options, we would get to meet our objections,” Gauss said.

airBaltic has said before that it is interested in adding the stretched A220-500 to the fleet. Airbus has said on numerous occasions that it is not a matter of if but when the -500 will be launched, but no decision is to be expected soon. When Bank of America said last month that the -500 could be launched in Paris, Airbus was quick to deny the story.

No deal at the Paris Airshow

However, Gauss added that a deal will not be signed anytime soon and certainly not at the Paris Airshow in two weeks. “We first want to have solved the issues with the Pratt & Whitney Geared Turbofan. airBaltic is one of the airlines that are suffering the most from engine durability problems. The engines are ok, but P&W is falling short of MRO capacity. Actually, the delays have become bigger again in the past three months.”

Despite the engine issues, airBaltic will continue to wet-lease A220s to other airlines. SWISS currently has eight of them, as the Lufthansa subsidiary itself suffers from GTF issues. CEO Dieter Vranckx said on Sunday that SWISS has five A220s on the ground as engines require repairs and updates.

“We plan to wet-lease out fifteen aircraft again in 2024. There are various airlines out there that are interested in our aircraft,” said Martin Gauss. “We hope that by then, the engine issues have improved and that we no longer need to wet-lease in capacity.” This summer, airBaltic is wet-leasing in some eight aircraft from Avion Express.

author avatar
Richard Schuurman
Active as a journalist since 1987, with a background in newspapers, magazines, and a regional news station, Richard has been covering commercial aviation on a freelance basis since late 2016. Richard is contributing to AirInsight since December 2018. He also writes for Airliner World, Aviation News, Piloot & Vliegtuig, and Luchtvaartnieuws Magazine. Twitter: @rschuur_aero.

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