In 1996, the airline's first Avro RJ70 was delivered; and Air Baltic joined SAS frequent flier club as a partner. 1997 saw the opening of a cargo department, and in 1998, the airline's first Fokker 50 plane was delivered. The adopted livery was mainly white, with the name of the airline written in blue on the forward fuselage, the 'B' logo being heavily stylized in blue checks. The blue checked pattern was repeated on the aircraft tailfin.
In 1999, Air Baltic became a joint stock company, and all of their Saab 340s were replaced by Fokker 50s. By September, the airline had begun operating under the European Aviation Operating Standards, or JAR ops. Air Baltic welcomed the new millennium by introducing new uniforms and opening a cargo center at Riga's airport.
The first Boeing 737-500 joined the fleet in 2003, and on June 1, 2004, Air Baltic launched services from the Lithuanian capital, Vilnius, initially to five destinations. In October 2004, Air Baltic rebranded as airBaltic. Their present livery consists of an all-white fuselage and lime tailfin. airBaltic.com is displayed on the forward upper fuselage, and the word "Baltic" is repeated in white on the lower part of the tailfin.
In December, 2006, the first Boeing 737-300 joined the fleet, configured with winglets. In July 2007, airBaltic introduced an online check-in system. It was the first online check-in system in the Baltic states.In Ppring 2008, two long-haul Boeing 757-200ER joined the existing airBaltic fleet. On 10 March 2008, it was announced that in the next three years the airline would acquire new aircraft, experiencing the largest fleet expansion in the company's history. The new additions will be Bombardier Q400 NextGen aircraft.
airBaltic has strong links with SAS Scandinavian which owns 47.2% of the airline (the Latvian state holds the remainder). It operates frequent flights to SAS hubs in Copenhagen, Oslo and Stockholm. The airline boasts "Well connected with SAS" status and the airline's frequent flyer programme is SAS' EuroBonus scheme. Other products and services shared with SAS include co-ordinated timetabling and shared airport lounges.
Unlike its affiliated carrier, SAS, airBaltic is not a member of the Star Alliance or any other airline grouping, though this may change in the future if SAS successfully sponsors the carrier as a regional member. At the moment, however, codeshare agreements are in place with many Star Alliance airlines and with many others.
As of September 2007 airBaltic employs 948 people.
In 2007, airBaltic served 2,007,150 passengers, an increase of 27% compared to 2006. In 2007 airBaltic increased number of its flights to 36,804 (27% increase over 2006) and its average cabin factor wa 63% (3% increase over 2006). Turnover for 2007 reached 159.43 million lats (226,85 million EUR), up 38% compared to 2006. However, its net profit decreased by 69% and was 1.24 million lats (1.76 million EUR). The decrease is attributable to the overall expansion of the airline and its services. Turnover for 2006 reached 115.9 million lats (164.9 million euro), an increase of 37% compared to 2005. At FYE 2006, operational result (EBITDAR) reached 16.9 million lats (24.0 million EUR), a 65% increase from 2005(9.7 MLVL/13.8 MEUR). The airline's net profit for 2006 was 4.305 million lats (6.125 million euro) vs. -1.14 million lats (-1,62 million euro) a year before. As of 9/2007 airBaltic's earned 5.1 million lats in pre-tax profit (7.2 million EUR) of 41% compared to 2006.
airBaltic operates 48 direct flights from Riga and 22 from Vilnius, as well as a non-stop flight between Kaliningrad and Copenhagen, flights from Liepaja to Hamburg and Copenhagen from 9 June 2007. Flights from Liepaja to Hamburg and Copenhagen served by airBaltic partner - DAT - Danish Air Transport leased aircraft ATR 42-300.
The airBaltic fleet includes the following aircraft (as of July 2008):
|149||New YL-BBJ, YL-BBX, YL-BBY, 1 on order|
|Boeing 757-200ER||2||200||YL-BDB, YL-BDC|
|Fokker 50||8||46-52||to be replaced by Dash 8-400's NextGen.|
|Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 NextGen||(8 orders)||76||8 firm orders and 4 options, with the deliveries starting in November 2009. Replacing Fokker 50's.|
In April 2008, airBaltic leased three aircraft: a DAT - Danish Air Transport ATR 42-320 (OY-JRJ) aircraft for their routes from Liepaja to Riga, Copenhagen and Hamburg; an Air Express Sweden Fokker 100 (SE-DUV) and a Carpatair Fokker 100 (YR-FKB).
|Saab 340||2||1995-1999||YL-BAG, YL-BAP|
|Avro RJ70||3||1996-2005||YL-BAK, YL-BAL, YL-BAN|
|Boeing 737-500||1||-||YL-BBB was operated from 2003 to 2007|
|Fokker 50||1||-||SE-LJI was operated from 2005 to 2006|