Who has become the world’s first all-A220 airline?

The adopted Airbus aircraft is now the sole type used by one European operator

More than seven years after the jet’s first flight, Latvian airline airBaltic has just become the world’s first all-Airbus A220 operator. The carrier ditched its workhorse De Havilland Dash 8-400s in favour of streamlining its roster to accommodate just the former Bombardier narrowbody.

Aviation Image Network/Simon Gregory
(Photo Aviation Image Network/Bailey)

The airline now fields a line-up comprising 23 A220-300s, the first of which it took delivery of exactly four years ago tomorrow on November 28, 2016.

AirBaltic was the tenth airline to place an order for the then Bombardier C Series aircraft when it signed for ten jets in December 2012. Over the next four years it added another ten examples before making a mammoth deal to purchase 30 -300s in May 2018.

Aircraft trading firm Jetcraft has been brought on board to market the sub-lease of 11 turboprops from airBaltic’s fleet of 12, which the carrier itself is leasing from Nordic Aviation Capital (NAC).

(Photo airBaltic)

The Canadian-built examples vary in age, between seven and ten years, but the majority were produced in 2010. Seven were delivered at the start of the decade while four were manufactured in 2013 and a single example in 2011.

Powered by two Pratt & Whitney PW150A engines, the aircraft are laid out in a 76-seat single class configuration and are available for immediate sublease.

Currently, the market for Dash 8s is not ideal for owners and lessors of the type because there are more than 50 in Europe without a home. Following the collapse of Flybe in March, 34 of its turboprops were returned to lessors. In April, Luftfahrtgesellschaft Walter – a wet-lease operator who used to fly for Eurowings – filed for insolvency and added 20 airframes to the market.

With the addition of airBaltic’s airframes, the Dash 8 leasing market is suffering from a severe case of oversupply and no clear tangible demand because of the COVID-19 pandemic.