Page 46

B Y JA N I S K R E I L I S (C ’ 11)

AIR BALTIC:

CLEAR FOR TAKE-OFF T ry to find a flight from Paris to Tel

From a point-to-point carrier operating from

Aviv, and airBaltic, Latvia’s national

several airports, the company has transformed

flag carrier, will probably offer to

itself into a transit-focused airline hauling

In 2009, airBaltic carried almost 2.8

give you a lift. If you agree (and you might,

travelers through Riga as its main hub. For this

million passengers.

given the price), your next stop will be in

achievement, the European Regions Airline

Riga, the Latvian capital and the main hub

Association awarded to airBaltic its 2009/10

of the airline. And you will not be the only

Airline of the Year Gold Award. Later, for the

one there. Despite the current economic

same reasons, the Latvian company earned

meltdown in the Baltics, airBaltic looks

the Phoenix Award from Air Transport World,

remarkably strong. It’s on a green branch -

a major magazine of the airline industry.

as the Latvians would say - and, in the case

The most recent award has come from the

of airBaltic, that branch seems as green as

World Low Cost Airlines Congress, recognizing

the lime tailfins of its planes.

the new ‘hybrid’ business model of airBaltic.

During the summer of 2009, the airline

Like other low-cost airlines, airBaltic offers

served over 100 destinations from its hubs

significantly lower rates compared to traditional

in the three Baltic capitals Riga, Tallinn, and

European

Vilnius as well as a number of Scandinavian

baggage and refreshments on board. However,

airports. With a fl eet of 32 aircraft, airBaltic

like ‘legacy’ or ‘network’ carriers, airBaltic sells

focuses

Europe

its tickets through travel agencies, participates

and Scandinavia to the countries of CIS

in codeshare agreements, and offers business

and the Middle East. Meanwhile, Latvians,

class service on most flights. So far, the model

Lithuanians, and Estonians enjoy a great

has worked remarkably well: airBaltic ended

number of direct fl ights—currently over 70—

2009 with a 20 million euro profit, and the

from its home base in Riga.

number of its flights as well as passengers has

on

connecting

Western

At the Riga International Airport (RIX), one now hears other languages as much as

46

111210 hq.indd 46

airlines,

but

also

charges

for

kept rising throughout 2010, all amidst a global recession and the crisis in Latvia.

the native Latvian. Last year, airBaltic carried

The airline has been innovating constantly

2.76 million passengers, more than the total

to stay on the upward curve. Last year, it

population of Latvia. This success reflects

introduced BalticMiles, its own frequent-flyer

the change of airBaltic’s business model.

program, and by now, the program has grown

I N T E R N AT I O N A L B U S I N E S S R E V I E W

FA L L 2 0 1 0

11/27/2010 3:13:16 PM

International Business Review - Fall 2015  

Fall edition of the IBR magazine at the Wharton School.

International Business Review - Fall 2015  

Fall edition of the IBR magazine at the Wharton School.

Advertisement