According to the German boss of the Latvian airline Air Baltic, climate-neutral flying will be possible by 2050. "We can't do it quickly. We can only do that in a structured approach. But I still think that in 2050, maybe not the last airline, but the majority of air passenger transport will be emission-free. I'm pretty sure of that "said Martin Gauss of the German Press Agency.
The industry wants to fly climate-neutrally by 2050 and make air traffic emission-free. This was decided by the international industry association Iata 2021. Gauss admitted that technically this was an enormous challenge.
He sees Air Baltic as the largest airline in the Baltic States on the right track. It flies to more than 70 destinations from its Riga hub and uses a single fleet of more than 40 Airbus A220s.
"We've taken a big step by ordering this aircraft. The rest of the world has yet to convert their fleets to something as modern as we have," Gauss said of the short- and medium-haul aircraft. In total, Air Baltic has ordered 50 of these and has an option for 30 more A220s.
Last but not least, the renewal of the fleet should also serve the IPO planned for 2024, for which the state-owned company is preparing. According to Air Baltic, the first quarter was the best result in its history.
Plane rental solved pandemic problems
Things looked different during the pandemic: Gauss had to convince the Latvian government to ensure the company's survival with a capital increase of 250 million euros. Air Baltic was also hit by the consequences of Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine.
The problems were partly offset by the leasing of aircraft and crews in a so-called "wet lease" to Lufthansa companies such as Swiss. "It helps us. These planes generate solid profit margins for us," Gauss said.
Air Baltic also cooperates directly with Lufthansa - so some flights are offered with flight numbers of both companies (codeshare). "We have a strong cooperation in the form of codeshare. Which helps both of us as we carry most of the passengers to the Baltics on the Munich routes."
The Air Baltic boss, who has been in office since 2011, described Lufthansa's entry into the Italian state company Ita Airways as a "strategic, very clever step". The German group has the chance to secure one of the strongest markets in Europe and unite it under one roof, said Gauss. Lufthansa is very professional when it comes to integrating acquired companies into its group.