airBaltic: 7-8% of planes fully occupied in summer months
In summer months 7-8% of passenger aircraft of Latvian national airBaltic airline are fully occupied, says airBaltic CEO Martin Gauss.
He says average passenger load factor was 70-75% in summer. This can be explained with much lower indexes during the winter season. The airline’s goal is reaching passenger load factor at 80%, but no higher than that. «Statistics show that if passenger load factor exceeds 82%, the number of passengers who are left out also increases, which is something we want to avoid. Of course, increasing average passenger load factor also means more aircraft with 80-90% load factor,» explains Gauss. airBaltic CEO says every airline has its own policy in relation to overloaded flights. «Such situations appear because some passengers never arrive for their flights. airBaltic’s approach, it seems, works rather well, because it has been a long time since we’ve heard complaints from passengers left out from flights. We also benefit from the fact that our average passenger load factor is not as high as other low-cost airlines,» says Gauss. He says more than 90% of seats for more than half of airBaltic flights in summer months. 7-8% of all flights were filled 100%. «If all seats are booked and all passengers arrive for their flights, we may experience overload,» adds Gauss.
According to him, in such cases airBaltic always tries finding volunteers who would be fine departing later. «For example, if passengers pay EUR 69 for a flight, and are offered EUR 250 to depart later, many people agree to transfer to a different flight. There are very few situations when passengers are not delivered to their desired destinations, which we compensate in accordance with EU requirements. If we do not act honestly, there will be a lot of press coverage in the media. There is no airline in the world that would want reports or video footage of passengers being pushed off their flights,» said airBaltic CEO.
Commenting on whether or not other airlines behave similarly, he said every airline has its own approach. Nevertheless, at international airports, especially during summer, airlines can be heard announcing requests for volunteers. «Many airlines do this, but the question is compensating passengers for inconveniences,» added Gauss.
He also allows that low-cost airlines may have an easier time dealing with such situations and finding volunteers. «If you have an airplane full of businessmen, and each of them paid EUR 1,000 for their seats, no one will agree to wait four hours for a EUR 300 compensation. Youngsters most often agree to depart later because the compensation usually covers their travel expenses. Situations differ depending on frequency of flights to specific destinations,» said airBaltic CEO. airBaltic concern earned EUR 353.639 million last year, which is 19.6% more than the year before. The airline’s revenue reached EUR 4.703 million.
AirBaltic services direct flights from Riga to more than 70 destinations around the world, including Scandinavia, Europe, Russia, CIS and the Middle East. The airline also offers direct flights from Tallinn and Vilnius.