Latvian state-owned airline airBaltic has six months to repay €200 million borrowed buyers of bonds issued in 2019 for five years, reports LSM. According to the report, the Latvian state may have to get involved to come to the rescue.
In 2019, airBaltic issued €200 million in bonds. The company's largest stakeholder is the Latvian state, however, airBaltic has failed to attract new investors. The Latvian government is now discussing an initial public offering for a minority stake in the airline.
airBaltic's equity is currently almost €71 million in the red. This means higher interest rates on loans, which in turn undermines the company's international competitiveness, LSM reports.
The company has managed to increase cash flow in recent years. While no official figures are available at the moment, the company said it may have been close to €668 million last year. It is possible that airBaltic did reach profitability in 2023.
At the same time, the company has heavy debts and needs to repay €200 million by July 30, money it does not currently have. A further state aid package cannot be ruled out, while the company could also issue more bonds or look for new investors.
"All three of these options are possible. We cannot make a statement today about which of the options will come true. But one of these will happen, preferably the best for the company and shareholders," said Martin Gauss, chair of the company's board of directors.
Gauss expressed hope that the airline would not have to turn to the state for assistance. However, the war in Ukraine has reduced interest among foreign investors in the Baltic region, with Gauss admitting that borrowing would now also become far more expensive. Five years ago, the interest rate on a loan was 6.75 percent.
Editor: Michael Cole