Latvian carrier AirBaltic says it plans to restart flights next month with around five planes, flying to up to 12 destinations. AirBaltic flew to and from Tallinn Airport on several routes prior to the emergency restrictions arising from the coronavirus pandemic.
Air Baltic CEO Martin Gauss says that recommencing flights requires a state permit, adding that the company has plans to restart in May though no dates have been firmed up, ERR's online news in Estonian reports.
Gauss added that five aircraft flying to 12 key destinations would constitute AirBaltic's initial service, with each sucessive week seeing an additional plane and more destinations added.
Gauss noted that the company's pre-pandemic flights' volume would not be likely met till 2022 at the earliest.
AirBaltic gets 2,000 bookings per week at present, even though 40 percent of 2020's flights have been struck off, Gauss said.
The Latvian government extended its coronavirus emergency situation to May 12; should the restrictions dissolve in summer, AirBaltic says that it will get to around 60 percent of pre-pandemic flight volumes by year end.
Around 85 percent of European flights by all carriers have been cancelled since the coronavirus pandemic started, with Finnair and Sweden's SAS making 92 percent cancellations and Irish budget carrier Ryanair – Europe's largest airline – cancelling as many as 96 percent of its flights.
The International Air Transport Association (IATA) estimates that it may take a several years for air traffic to reach pre-crisis levels.
The lengthy recovery period is in part due to continuing restrictions in different countries particularly on inter-continental flights.
Martin Gauss also said he expects several mergers to take place between European airlines in the next year.
AirBaltic has already said that it will only use its newer Airbus planes once the emergency restrictions are lifted, with older aircraft including Boeings and turboprop planes, whose leasing periods were due to expire soon in any case, to be abandoned.
Editor: Andrew Whyte