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June 24, 2024
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airBaltic is forced to wet-lease in another four aircraft for the early summer season because Pratt & Whitney is unable to return repaired Geared Turbofan engines for its own Airbus A220-300s in time. The Nordic airline did little to hide its frustrations in a press statement that was released today. airBaltic shows frustration as it needs to wet lease more aircraft.

CEO Martin Gauss has been critical before about the delays he is seeing with GTF engines returning from the repair shops after checks and parts replacement. Back in January, he said that repairs had gone up from ninety days to eight months as P&W’s backlog grows over technical issues with the engines.

To have adequate capacity, airBaltic planned to wet-lease-in five aircraft this summer. It announced a contract with Avion Express for four Airbus A320ceo’s on March 6 but now adds another four aircraft from today until May 31. They include one Bombardier CRJ-900 from XFly, one A319 from Carpatair, and two A320ceo’s from Danish Air Transport and Cyprus Airways.

airBaltic says in its press release: Such conditions have arisen as a result of the manufacturer’s (P&W) inability to fulfill the obligations of engine maintenance in a timely manner.” Further on, Gauss says: “We are strongly committed to our contractual obligations to passengers and partners. However, the extended turnaround times for Pratt & Whitney servicing the engines are causing operational disruption for airBaltic. They, as a long-term partner of airBaltic could not keep the given promise again on the improved turnaround times. Therefore, airBaltic is contracting replacement capacity in form of ACMI wet-lease aircraft.” He adds: “While we understand that this is an unfortunate situation, we remain optimistic that it will be resolved soon.”

While airBaltic has plenty of Airbus A220s in its fleet with forty aircraft, it prefers to wet lease out fourteen of them this summer to other European airlines. This has become a welcome source of revenue to the airline, although wet-leasing-in more aircraft than planned will partly negate the financial benefits.

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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