According to the airline’s CEO, six of airBaltic’s Airbus A220 aircraft are grounded owing to a lack of spare components.
There are 36 Airbus A220-300 aircraft in the Latvian carrier’s fleet, but not all of them are now operational, Martin Gauss said in a message to customers apologizing for recent delays.
“Currently, global supply chain issues are forcing six of our aircraft to remain on the ground because we are missing spare parts for regular maintenance work,” Gauss explained. Some of the grounded aircraft has been out of action for six months, which he described as “very uncommon”.
The need for spare airplane parts has increased in 2022 due to an uptick in air traffic, but problems with the supply chain are preventing plans to increase production, according to French aerospace company Safran in its first-half financial report on July 28, 2022.
“Frankly speaking, I think the supply chain issues are going to last probably until 2023, maybe the end of 2023,” chief executive Olivier Andriès told analysts.
AirBaltic is consequently wet leasing aircraft from other airlines, such as Ukrainian flag carrier UIA, to make up for the grounded aircraft.
Gauss added that airBaltic’s delays were caused by a lack of employees at significant European airports. While Riga and other Baltic airports have adequate staffing, which allows airBaltic aircraft to take off on time in the morning, delays occur elsewhere in Europe.
“The reasons are simple: airports do not have enough staff to load baggage or work at the gates and security controls,” Gauss said. “For us, this means that, although we fly with you to these airports on time in the morning, our return flights are delayed, which leads to delays for subsequent flights as well.”
Gauss said a return to normal operations was not far off. “When summer is over and we will have reduced our flight program for the winter season, European airports should be able to handle the situation better.”