The airline’s fleet now contains just a single type – the A220.
airBaltic has successfully returned its final Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 to its lessor more than 12 years after first operating the type. The Baltic airline transported over 11 million passengers with its Q400 fleet over the years – let’s take a closer look below.
airBaltic returns its last Q400
The airline announced the completion of its final Bombardier Q400 redelivery on February 1st, marking an end to over a decade of operations with the turboprop. Data from FlightRadar24.com shows the 13-year-old aircraft (registration: YL-BAQ) took a brief two-hour flight from Riga Airport (RIX) to Billund Airport (BLL) on February 1st, where it was received by lessor Nordic Aviation Capital.
The last redelivery flight marks an official end to our previous stage of development. Q400, definitely, was an excellent-performance aircraft, which at the time helped us to get where we are today – flying the most efficient and greenest fleet in Europe.”
The Q400 down the years
airBaltic took delivery of its first Bombardier Dash 8 Q400 back in May 2010 with the arrival of YL-BAE, followed by seven more of the type within the same year. By 2013, the airline had 12 of the turboprops in operation and continued to fly the Q400 up until March 2020.
As the carrier proudly states, its Q400s were responsible for transporting over 11 million passengers and performed over 222,000 flights during their decade-long service at airBaltic. The 76-seat all-economy turboprop operated at a range of around 2,000km and became a key workhorse on airBaltic’s regional network.
Officially a single-type airline
Today’s move marks airBaltic’s official transition to being an all-A220 operator, with the airline’s entire fleet now consisting of 39 Airbus A220-300s. In truth, airBaltic has been a single-type operator ever since the early days of the pandemic, which saw it sideline its Bombardier Q400 fleet and remaining Boeing 737 aircraft indefinitely.
“Although a smaller plane allows more flexibility occasionally, still a single-type fleet has significant advantages – both economic and technical (maintenance), and also in terms of sustainability and training. We are thankful to Bombardier for service; it was a journey that is recorded in our history. Now we are looking forward and are delighted how the Airbus A220-300 has transformed our airline, becoming one of the core and very valuable assets of the company.”
airBaltic recently celebrated six years of A220 operations after conducting its first A220 revenue flight on December 14th, 2016 – the airline has now served over 10 million passengers with its A220s and is on course to eclipse its total Q400 passenger count this year.
The carrier bid farewell to its last Boeing 737 in December 2020 after phasing out its last dozen 737s from 2018 onwards. While the airline is clearly enamored with the performance of its A220-300 fleet, it looks like airBaltic will be forced to wet lease additional aircraft this summer due to delays with its engine MRO specialist.