Thursday, 8 October 2020

Happy 25th anniversary airBaltic

It is rather remarkable that from small beginnings some 25 years ago, with a small Saab 340 aircraft with only 33 seats airBaltic welcomed its first passengers on a flight from Riga to Stockholm. Now the airline is emerging as one of Europe's success stories flying to move than 60 destinations and from all three of the Baltic capitals.

Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic: “Even in times like these it is important to reflect on our work over the years and see how we have developed. That is the reason why we are now introducing revised mission, values, and vision with strong commitment for the future. We are thankful to our employees, passengers, and partners for being with us together on this journey for 25 years.”

We will look at those revised mission statements a little later, but first, it is rather fitting to take a brief look back at some of the major milestones that have happened along the way.

1995  The airline was established in the autumn of 1995 with the signing of a joint venture between the Latvian state and Scandinavian Airlines (SAS). On October 1st, airBaltic operates its first commercial flight, from Riga to Stockholm, with the Saab SF340 aircraft, with just 33 seats.

1997  airBaltic opens up its cargo division in April of 1997 

1998 The airline’s first Fokker 50 arrives in Riga in November. A fleet of such aircraft faithfully serves airBaltic for the next 15 years 

1999  The first issue of airBaltic’s inflight magazine Baltic Outlook is published during March.

2000 For some time airBaltic’s fleet consists of three Avro RJ70 and three Fokker 50 aircraft.

2001  In June the airline recorded its one-millionth passenger.

In November the first Boeing 737-500 was introduced into the airBaltic fleet.

2004  Latvia joins the European Union in May and, thanks to the Open Skies policy, airBaltic is free to fly within Europe.

2004 June airBaltic begins direct flights from Vilnius to 11 European destinations and serves 27 routes from Riga.

2004 October the airline sports a new corporate livery, which consists of an all-white fuselage and lime-green tailfin with the name ‘Baltic’ on it.

2005 December the airline carriers one million passengers in a single year.

2007 airBaltic begins training Boeing 737 pilots in a simulator at its home base in Riga during September.

2008 airBaltic opens an office in Tallinn, which is its tenth office. The airline also has offices in Riga (two), Vilnius, Klaipeda, Berlin, Kyiv, Minsk, Moscow, and Saint Petersburg.

2009 January airBaltic management purchases the SAS shares in the airline.

2009 the airBaltic frequent flyer programme, BalticMiles is born. 

2010 A new training centre in Riga opens up. 

2010 Passenger numbers exceed three million during the year.

2011 In November the board appoints Martin Gauss as the new CEO.

2011 airBaltic becomes the world’s first airline to sell cars on board in December.

2011 Also in December, the Latvian government increases its shareholding in airBaltic to 99.8%, and airBaltic becomes a true national airline of Latvia.

2014 airBaltic operates a special flight from Riga to the Winter Olympics in Sochi with Latvian and Lithuanian athletes on board. The teams depart on a Boeing 737-500 specially painted with Olympic livery.

2014 In July airBaltic becomes the world’s first airline to accept Bitcoin as a payment option.

2014 July the airline adopts iPads for its flight crews, saving around two million sheets of paper every year

2015 For the first time, OAG rates airBaltic the world’s most punctual airline.

  airBaltic welcomes the world’s first Bombardier CS300  (now Airbus A220-300) during November at Riga, becoming the global launch customer for this aircraft, 

2017  In July, airBaltic sets a new world record for turnaround as its newest Bombardier CS300 takes its first commercial flight only 50 minutes after delivery from Canada.

2017 The airBaltic Training Pilot Academy begins accepting applications to train a new generation of pilots from the Baltic states during December.

2018 September - airBaltic is the official air carrier for Pope Francis and the papal delegation during their official visit to the Baltic states.

2018  The airline reveals a special livery on an Airbus A220-300 aircraft and on November 18, the plane takes part in the parade in honour of Latvia’s centenary.

2019  In August airBaltic honours the 30th anniversary of the Baltic Way with three aircraft painted in national liveries

2019  During the autumn the airline participates in various air shows as well as taking an Airbus A220-300 on a tour around the Pacific region, visiting Vanuatu, Australia, New Zealand, New Caledonia, and Papua New Guinea.

2019 airBaltic shows of its first Airbus A220 full-flight simulator.

2019 By December airBaltic had carried more than five million passengers during the year. 

2020 In May,  airBaltic becomes the first European airline to hand every customer on every flight an envelope containing a face mask and two disinfectant wipes. Also in May, the carrier starts operating a single fleet type - the popular, efficient, A220-300.

The changing styles of airBaltic cabin crew over the years.....

“We are here to stay in order to fulfil our mission to ensure essential connectivity between the Baltic states and the world with a significant economic contribution. In addition, our revised vision sees airBaltic becoming a sustainable carrier in the EU aviation market, while maintaining a continuous growth path and innovative improvement of passenger experience, catalysing Baltic states development as Europe’s business centre and travel hub,” CEO Martin Gauss said.

The revised three core values of airBaltic are:

We deliver – we are strongly committed to deliver top-notch quality in all areas of our operations. We make sure that travel is safe, punctual and smooth for our customers. We are a reliable partner for everyone we cooperate with. By connecting people and places we bring benefit to the whole society.

We care – we love what we do and our passion for aviation inspires others. We build long-lasting relationships with our passengers, anticipating their needs and offering the best service possible. Sustainability is at the core of all the ways we work – how we do business, how we interact with people, how we care about environment, introducing green practices wherever we can.

We grow – we see challenges as opportunities to develop. We innovate, improve and move forward in order to be ahead of the industry. We are a team of the best professionals in the field who are persistently working to stay on top. We believe in the balance of thinking fast and smart – true leaders are flexible visionaries and take clear decisions to adapt to change and create a better future.

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