As the year draws to a close, the Latvian national airline airBaltic looks back at the most important events in the aviation industry in the past twelve months.
1. Iceland Volcano Ash Cloud. It caused the largest disruption in the history of European aviation and left millions of passengers stranded.
2. Consolidation of airlines continues. Airlines sought to further cut costs and benefit from economies of scale through mergers such as British Airways/Iberia, United/Continental, Olympic/Aegean
3.Single European Sky (SES). The volcano ash cloud crisis revealed the need for better coordination, and EU Ministers agreed to expedite the implementation of the Single European Sky programme to rationalise European airspace. SES would also reduce circuitous routings which waste fuel and contribute to environmental impact.
4. Hybrid Model becomes more popular among airlines. Low cost carriers like Vueling started to carry transit passengers via its Barcelona hub, while the traditional carriers increasingly introduce paid services, for example, Finnair started charging for the second bag, British Airways introduced a fee for advance seat selection, and a number of airlines opted for paid meals.
5. Travel Packaging. Airline websites increasingly evolved into online travel megastores, as customers chose them as a “one-stop-shop” to purchase everything from flight to hotel, to car rental, to concert or even sunglasses for a beach holiday.
airBaltic also highlights its own Top 5 events in the past year:
1. Introduction of Bombardier Q400 Next Gen aircraft. airBaltic is the first airline in the Baltic region to introduce new, modern, and environmentally-friendly aircraft.
2. Breakthrough in social media. airBaltic is among Top 10 airlines in the world in social media, and the carrier’s experience with Facebook and Twitter helped tens of thousands of passengers during the volcano ash crisis.
3. International awards. airBaltic has earned international recognition and received numerous awards such as ATW Phoenix Award (Oscar in aviation industry), European Airline of the Year 2009/2010 by ERA, Pacesetter Award from the Jury of the Budgies World Low Cost Airline Awards.
4. Continuous Innovation. Recent innovations of airBaltic include Apple iPads for in-flight entertainment (the first airline in Europe), roses offered to passengers while planes are up in the sky (the first airline in the world), organic and locally grown food for business class passengers by Mārtiņš Rītiņš, the most renowned chef in the Baltic region.
5. Extending brand outside aviation. airBaltic extended its brand to services outside the aviation industry (BalticTaxi, BalticBike, airBaltic Hotels).
airBaltic in brief:
AIR BALTIC CORPORATION (airBaltic) is a joint stock company that was established in 1995. The primary shareholders are the Latvian state, with 52.6% of stock, and SIA Baltijas aviācijas sistēmas, with 47.2% of stock. The airBaltic fleet consists of 33 aircraft – six Boeing 737-500, eight Boeing 737-300, two Boeing 757-200, ten Fokker 50 airplanes and seven Bombardier Q400Next Gen. airBaltic offers nonstop flights from three Baltic capital cities – Riga, Vilnius, and Tallinn. airBaltic received the title of Airline of the Year 2009/2010 (Gold Award) from the European Regions Airline Association. airBaltic is the winner of Air Transport World Phoenix Award 2010 – a global recognition of excellence in restructuring business. In summer 2010, airBaltic was chosen for anna.aero ANNIES Award as Europe's largest flag carrier by new routes. airBaltic won a special Pacesetter Award 2010 from the Jury of the Budgies World Low Cost Airline Awards, recognising achievements of airBaltic as a hybrid airline.