Who is the regional airline of the year?
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airBaltic was selected for its strong return to growth and profitability after emerging from a challenging restructuring period. Annual passenger numbers, essentially unchanged at 2.6 million between 2008 and 2015, look set to reach five million in 2019, a near doubling in four years. Revenues have enjoyed similar growth.
airBaltic’s restructuring years and the 2016 minority investment from a private investor have helped to secure its turnaround and renewed profitable growth. This has been supported by its decision to buy the Airbus A220-300 and eventually to replace all its Boeing 737s and Bombardier Dash-8s with the new aircraft.
airBaltic made six consecutive years of positive net profits by 2018. CEO Martin Gauss has said that 2021 or 2022 could be a suitable time for an IPO, provided the airline is meeting targets. Meanwhile, he is prudently continuing to build the airline’s track record of disciplined growth to ensure sustainable profitability.
CAPA Chairman Emeritus Peter Harbison said: “airBaltic combines an LCC cost base with a compelling hybrid business class product, while its route network meshes point to point demand with a hub and spoke model. Its growth and return to profit, built on a strong market share in its home market of Latvia and the wider Baltic region, should certainly attract investor interest.”
Martin Gauss, Chief Executive Officer of airBaltic said: “We at airBaltic have had yet another year of intense work and successful growth. We have continued developing our services, modernising the fleet and widening the route network for better connectivity. More passengers appreciate our product and choose airBaltic as their carrier. As a result, our total market share in the Baltics this year has reached 37%, ranking airBaltic the No 1 airline in Latvia and Estonia with 60% and 21% market share respectively. The CAPA Regional Airline of the Year award is a great honour and an excellent motivation for our team to follow the course of constant improvement and growth.”