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AirBaltic CEO: ‘We’re on target’ to post 2010 net profit

posted Aug 17, 2010, 8:05 AM by Rowan Hewitt

By Cathy Buyck | August 17, 2010

AirBaltic. Photo: Courtesy, AirBaltic.

AirBaltic is confident it will post a net profit this year despite the volcanic ash-related airspace closures in April and an uncertain economic climate, President and CEO Bertolt Flick told ATW.

“2010 is not the easiest year, but we’re doing okay. We’re on target,” Flick said in Riga. AirBaltic, ATW's 2010 Phoenix Awardwinner, recently launched over 20 new routes. “We seized market opportunities,” he said, dismissing remarks from some that carrier is expanding too rapidly. “Several of the new routes were profitable after one month.”

The airline carried 1.5 million passengers in the first six months of 2010, up 22% year-over-year, as the number of flights it operated rose 27% compared to the 2009 first half. Load factor remained stable at 65%. “Yield is lower than last year but CASK also decreased, mainly owing to higher aircraft utilization and overall productivity gains,” Flick added.

He confirmed that AirBaltic is pursuing talks with Finncomm Commuter Airlines about a commercial cooperation but is no longer contemplating taking a majority stake or an outright purchase of the Finnish carrier. Privately held Finncomm has provided feeder services for Finnair since 1998 but the relationship between the carriers has been tense in recent months with Finncomm discontinuing several loss-making routes. Finnair cited concerns about its future with Finncomm in announcing its wet-lease deal with Flybe earlier this month(ATW Daily News, Aug. 9). 

The envisaged cooperation with Finncomm is part of AirBaltic’s “Finland focus,” which it launched two years ago and “is paying off,” according to Flick. It now serves 10 airports in the country with more than 20 routes, including several domestic routes. “For people traveling between Finland and Western Europe, it makes no difference if they fly over Riga or Helsinki, but owing to our low costs, we can offer lower fares than Finnair," he said.