airBaltic reports record profits for 2023

Latvian national airline airBaltic racked up the largest profit in its history last year – 34 million euros, as opposed to the loss of 54 million euros a year earlier, the company said March 5. 

The company's revenues increased by 33.6% last year and amounted to 668 million euros, which is also the highest figure ever in the company's nearly 30-year history.

airBaltic President and CEO Martin Gauss, presenting last year's results, stated that 2023 was a success.

“2023 was a very successful year of growth for airBaltic. With a record-breaking revenue of well above half a billion euros, the highest profit in the company’s history, impressive record EBITDAR of EUR 159 million, and other positive business indicators, airBaltic has surpassed the pre-pandemic level,” said Gauss.

“airBaltic has started 2024 on a strong note, and currently, our focus is on continuing our path to a potential initial public offering (IPO). Our core objectives remain unchanged – to ensure the best connectivity between the Baltics and the world, as well as enhance the passenger experience and deliver a fundamental contribution to the economy,” Gauss added.

Presenting the results of the past year, the head of the airline indicated that the company's contributions to the state budget in the form of various taxes were worth more than 42 million euros. 

airBaltic 2023 results
airBaltic 2023 results

In 2023, "airBaltic" launched flights on 38 new routes from all five domestic destinations where the company's bases are located: Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, Tampere and Gran Canaria (seasonal base), which is the highest figure ever. In total, the airline had an extensive route network with 126 routes, a significant increase compared to 103 routes in 2022.

However, continuing the growth trend will require more investments to be made. The maturity date of a 200 million euro bond falls in July this year, so the airline will seek external financing to refinance the bond. At the same time, the airline plans to attract additional financing worth almost 100 million euros.

At the beginning of February, Latvian Television's "De Facto" investigative show suggested that the company's latest financial report lists three options for repaying 200 million: borrow from private lenders, issue new bonds or ask for more help from the state.

airBaltic ended 2023 with 46 "Airbus A220-300" aircraft in its fleet. So far, in 2024, the airline has received one aircraft and increased its fleet to 47 aircraft of this type. More aircraft deliveries are planned this year, to complete a previous order of 50 aircraft.

At the end of last year, the company announced an additional contract for the purchase of 30 more "Airbus A220-300" aircraft with an option to purchase 20 more aircraft of this type, which would increase the fleet to 100 aircraft. Famously, airBaltic was one of the first to commit to the A220-300. At the time it was seen by some as a gamble, but it is one that apears to have paid off.

However, it has not all been plain sailing. Evaluating the past year, the company's director of operations and board member Pauls Cālītis stated that it continued to work with engine manufacturer Pratt and Whitney in order to reduce the impact of engine problems. "It is clear that Pratt and Whitney is aware of the impact of delayed engine maintenance, and they are trying to do everything to reduce this impact," Cālītis said. At the same time, this season the company will be forced to rent additional planes from other carriers so that flights are not cancelled. Currently, it is known that airBaltic will rent two Airbus A319 planes during the summer season.

The Latvian state owns 97.97% of airBaltic shares, while "Aircraft Leasing 1" owned by the financial investor, Danish businessman Lars Thuesen, owns 2.03%.

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