airBaltic’s Balkan expansion “one of the biggest changes to Riga network”

airBaltic has expanded across the Balkans this year and added new destinations in the former Yugoslavia including Ljubljana, Skopje, and Pristina, complementing Belgrade and Tivat, which were added to the network in 2023. Services to the Slovenian capital have been extended to year-round operations, with the route benefiting from the country’s subsidy program aimed at improving Ljubljana’s connectivity, On the other hand, its seasonal flights to Pristina have been cut-short by over a month. Commenting on its performance in the region, airBaltic told EX-YU Aviation News, “This has been one of the biggest changes to our Riga network since the pandemic. We have started generating completely new traffic flows via Riga by connecting the Baltic and Nordic countries to the Balkan countries and back. As with most new routes, we have some that overperform and some that underperform compared to our business case. For example, on some routes, we have noticed very strong demand directionality, which can be challenging to overcome, while on others we were surprised to see strong incoming demand to the Baltic and Nordic countries”.

Asked if it has plans to upgrade any of its seasonal routes within the former Yugoslavia to year-round operations beyond Ljubljana, the carrier said, “Currently, there are no plans to add other routes in the region to year-round operations”. The Latvian flag carrier did not want to be drawn on weather Zagreb or Sarajevo could join its network next year. “We have a list of many potential new routes, and it is being updated before each season to determine the best options for expansion”. This year, airBaltic has a total of 132.260 seats on flights to and from the former Yugoslavia. Out of those, the largest amount of capacity, 23.7%, is to Croatia, where the airline flies from Riga and Tallinn to Dubrovnik and Split, as well as from Vilnius to Dubrovnik.
Late last year, the Slovenian government held talks with representatives from airBaltic and discussed the possibility of the opening of a new base in Ljubljana. At the time, airBaltic representatives said they had no plans to open a base in the city, noting that such action would require substantial financial and organisational investment, along with the need to establish a new brand on the Slovenian market. Asked by EX-YU Aviation News weather it has reconsidered its position, the airline noted, “We cannot comment on this specific case, but considering our fleet growth in the future, we are open to investigating different opportunities and underserved markets across Europe”.

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